House passes Fellela bill to prohibit computer use in making threats against schools
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Deborah Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) that would make it a felony to use a computer to make threats against students at school. The measure, which passed 67 to 6, now heads to the Senate.
Concerned over threats that were made last year in the Johnston, Warwick and Cranston on school systems, Representative Fellela submitted the bill to give an extra level of safety to the students and staff at the state’s many schools, colleges and daycare centers.
“After what happened last year,” said Representative Fellela, “it’s imperative that we do all we can to stiffen the penalties for making threats against our schoolchildren.”
Last October, an anonymous letter was received that made threats of physical violence against students in Johnston, Warwick and Cranston, prompting all three communities to tighten security and increase police presence at community schools.
The bill (2015-H 5068A) would prohibit the use of a computer, phone, smartphone, tablet, fax machine, social media or any like device to make any statements or threats concerning the endangerment of students at any public or private daycare facility, preschool, school, college or university in the state.
A first conviction would be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to a year or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A second or subsequent conviction would be a felony, punishable by imprisonment up to five years or a fine of up to $10,000, or both. In addition, the perpetrator would be ordered to make full restitution for any emergency response expense incurred as a result of the threatening statement.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903