(The following scenarios presented to students on Wednesday are not real and were only presented to show them the consequences of these actions could always become real.)
BROOKSVILLE — Eighth grade students in Bracken County and Augusta Independent school districts were given a glimpse of what their future could hold should they commit certain crimes.
Each year, both school districts, along with the Bracken County Extension Office, put eighth-grade students through different drug-related crime scenarios to show them how serious the consequences of those crimes could be, according to BCHS teacher Trish Conley.
“This is a program through our extension office called Truth and Consequences,” she said. “Shannon Smith is our agent and we partner with her to bring the eighth graders through it. A KIP survey has shown the biggest period of at-risk behavior is between eighth and 10th grade, so that’s why we chose this age group. We want to make an impact before it’s too late. There’s a wide variety of crimes. Some would be handled through principal or superintendent, but others could go all the way up to seeing law enforcement or a judge. Other scenarios are innocent bystanders who were charged because they were there at the time that something happened.”
Students began their morning in the downstairs courtroom of the Bracken County Judicial Center, where they listened to a story from Kent and Connie Marinaro about their son, Kyle Marinaro, who died of a drug overdose eight years ago.
Kent Marinaro talked about how April 24 was the eight-year anniversary of the death of his son who died after taking oxycodone.
He explained how his son had been a college student at the time and met a girl who he said was a known user of drugs.
“We had told him he couldn’t bring her over to our house because she’d had difficulties,” he said. “Looking back, maybe I could have made a different decision, but that was the one at the time. We found out that Kyle had moved her in with him even though she wasn’t supposed to leave the state of Ohio because she was on probation there for other charges. After awhile, Kyle stopped coming home much while he was on breaks.”
Kent Marinaro said he received a call on April 24, 2010, that his son had died while on the property of the girl’s father.
“She had called someone and asked them what she should do,” he said. “She was told to take him to the hospital, but because she had charges, she was afraid of getting in trouble and didn’t take him. She could have saved his life. We were told later, when they did the autopsy, that it was evident Kyle was only a recent user. The girl had been using drugs for years, so her body was used to it. But, where he wasn’t, and probably took the same amount she did, it killed our son. It’s called an accidental overdose, because you don’t mean to do it. But, it can happen at any time when someone is using drugs.”
Once the students listened to the Marinaros, they were each given a scenario in which they have committed a crime and must visit different stations.
Each crime was different. Some included bringing drugs to a school campus, possession of drugs, robbery, burglary or simply giving a friend a headache pill while on school grounds. Other crimes included a scenario in which the student’s friend died of a drug overdose while the student was with them.
One of those students, Jett Insko, was given a scenario in which he had a friend who died of a drug overdose. He had to visit John Parker, the Bracken County Coroner and find out what would happen to him.
Parker sat at a desk in the upstairs courtroom, with funeral director Chris Cummins on his left side and a body bag on the floor to his right.
Parker told Insko that by being present when his friend died of an overdose, he could be facing charges.
Insko was able to come up with a story for the situation. He stood across the table from Parker and told him his friend had been using and he had overdosed, but there was nothing he could do.
Parker said while the authorities would believe his version of events, they would still have to get a search warrant for Insko’s property.
“For our evidence, and just as much to clear you, we’re going to get a search warrant and search your house — specifically your room and we’re going to search you,” Parker said. “Law enforcement will want to talk to you and they’ll be the ones searching the house.”
Once he was finished with the conversation, Parker showed Insko the body bag lying on the floor.
“Your friend who overdosed will be put in this body bag,” Parker said. “He’ll be taken to the medical examiner and an autopsy with toxicology will be done. A determination for the cause and manner of death will be made. The cause of death and the manner of death are different. We believe the cause to be an overdose, but we would still have to determine the manner of death, whether it would be accidental or a suicide.”
Other students scenarios were not as serious as Insko’s situation.
AIS Principal Robin Kelsch said he had some students who came to his area with a crime of giving a prescription pill to a friend at school.
“There was one scenario where a student gave one of their prescription pills to a friend and were caught,” Kelsch said. “They were sent to the principal’s office, where they learned that was considered trafficking. Most kids don’t seem to realize it’s illegal to share even a headache pill with friends, because you never know what kind of medications they’re on or if they have an allergy.”
Kelsch also had a student, Heather Hall, who had a scenario in which they were caught with illegal substances.
“It’s bad enough you were caught smoking, but you were also found to have pills in your container,” he said. “You’re going to be arrested. You’ll be suspended for 10 days and then you’ll have an expulsion hearing. If you get expelled, you can’t attend school for at least a year.”
Kelsch said some students came in with similar situations that required a higher authority in the school and were sent to see Bracken County Schools Superintendent Jeff Aulick.
Aulick explained how students could face expulsion and charges brought on by the school district if they are caught on campus with illegal drugs.
He spoke to Abigail Hamilton, whose scenario included possession on campus.
“You’re going to face charges,” he told Hamilton. “You were found with substances you weren’t supposed to have and you contributed to the endangerment of a minor, because you were giving the substance to someone else. The school board is going to suspend you for 10 days. You’ll face an expulsion hearing. Charges will be filed and you’ll have to speak with law enforcement.”
In another room, Bracken County Attorney Beth Moore explained the legal ramifications of a misdemeanor and a felony and how a misdemeanor would carry a lighter sentence than a felony charge that could carry several years of prison time.
The student at her table, Elizabeth Blackburn, had a scenario in which she robbed a store while under the influence of alcohol.
“So, it looks like I would easily be able to prove my case, since your face showed up on the security video,” Moore said. “At the trial, you’ll probably be found guilty. You’re still a juvenile, so depending on how you handle the case in front of the judge and with me, you may wind up with probation and under the Department of Juvenile Justice for six months to a year. Depending on how you do after that will depend on what happens to you.”
Once she completed her time with Moore, Blackburn had to stand before Judge Jeffrey Schumacher who explained more on the felony charge she could be facing in her scenario.
Blackburn said as a part of her scenario, she was also placed in one of the holding cells before visiting Moore’s table.
“This is a place I don’t want to have to come back to,” Blackburn said. “The cells in there were just stuffy. You can hear the air and it was weird and uncomfortable. After seeing all of this, my main goal is to not commit a crime and come back here.”
Jailer James Cox said he had several students in the holding cell throughout the day.
“They don’t like it when they go in there,” he said. “I explain to them that they could be in here with others who have committed crimes. It’s small and it’s uncomfortable. If they have to use the restroom, they would have to do it in front of everyone. They don’t like to hear that. I’ve had people cry when they come out there, because it’s too much for them.”
While the students upstairs were participating in the various scenarios, another group of students downstairs were participating in impairment activities in which they used drunk goggles to try to walk lines. They were also given a tour of the downstairs holding cells.