SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. — One of four York County high school students recently charged with making terroristic threats at school is out of jail Friday.
In a FOX 43 News exclusive, Brandon Thompson explains why he thinks his bail was excessive compared to what other students received from a judge.
The York CountyPrison is where Thompson had been since March 1, and after more than two weeks Thompson’s mother posted a message on Facebook stating “victory. He’s being released today.”
It was an emotional reunion for both mother and son.
Thompson’s mother Kimberly Elliott said “I knew that the day would come, and I was just praying that it came soon. I just can’t wait to get him home and feed him, he looks small, and get him back in the environment that he belongs in. In my home.”
Thompson, 18, was arrested for allegedly making terroristic threats at Dallastown High School.
His misdemeanor charge came with a $225,000 bail, which kept him at the York County Prison until a judge brought it down to zero at a bail modification hearing Friday afternoon.
“I can’t say that I was happy that I was in there, but I’m happy that I went through the situation, so it opened the door for more cases. So, you know, it happened for a reason,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s bail was set significantly higher than three other students charged with making threats at other local schools. One was released on his own recognizance, while the other two had bail set at $10,000 and $15,000 each.
Some say the different bail amounts weren’t the only difference among these four students.
Thompson is black, the other three are white.
“We all know, it’s been going on for centuries, racism, man. Just as simple as that,” Thompson said.
ACLU of Pennsylvania communications director Andy Hoover said “research continues to show significant racial disparities in who does and does not get cash bail or even how much of a bail amount they get.”
“Black defendants are likely to get a cash bail amount that is 35 percent higher than white defendants, and so you see this playing out not only in York County, but across the state,” Hoover said.
York County defense attorney Farley Holt said “it may be just by coincidence it happened that way. If it had been a white individual who would have been walking down the hall, and made gestures that he had a gun and shooting people, his bail may have been set at $250,000.”
Under Rule 523 of the Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure, judges take 10 sets of criteria into consideration in setting bail amounts.
“The nature of the offense. They take into account the defendants employment, and financial condition. The nature of the defendants family relationships and their proximity where they reside, whether they have close family contact in the area,” Holt said.
Thompson can now return home to his family while he waits to have his day in court.
“I’m happy to see my family again, you know. Justice was brought today at the court system. I appreciate it. So yeah, it feels good,” Thompson said.
The York Daily Record is reporting that one of the conditions of Thompson’s release is that he wear an ankle monitor.