Prison For A Prank?

In the wake of gay Rutgers student Tyler Clementi's suicide in September 2010, his roommate Dharun Ravi, accused of criminal bias and intimidation, turned down a plea offer. The trial could be televised and run for a month. Emily Bazelon and Kevin Lerner weigh in:

We don’t think Dharun Ravi should go to prison. His life has already been turned upside down—he left Rutgers at 19, he is living at home with his parents, and his misdeeds will follow him wherever he goes. But we understand why prosecutors are asking him to admit to some wrongdoing. It’s a mess, this case, and at this point it is mostly up to Ravi to extricate himself from it. It’s probably hard for Ravi, who has never been in legal trouble, to accept the idea of pleading guilty to what would have been written off as a prank if the police hadn’t gotten involved. It’s tough. But Ravi did do something wrong, even if it may not be much connected with Tyler’s death, and to go to trial is a big roll of the dice.