The Case of Jesse Snodgrass

Kevin Ruano Hernandez, Staff Writer

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As the War on Drugs continues increasing through the US, arrests, problems are increasing rapidly also. Even though states like California and Colorado legalize drugs, officers have the right to arrest those who abuse it and sell it illegally. On December 11th, 2012, twenty-two students were expelled and arrested for a drug bust in a high school in Temecula, California. This operation was called “ Operation Glasshouse,” a type of jump street style tactic where undercover police officers posed as students at a high school, searching for students who were drug dealers or were able to sell them drugs. 

On the news platform VICE,  reporters explained that Jesse Snodgrass was a part of this case, but targeted him the most because he is a person with autism. But what exactly does that mean? On the website Autism Speaks, the definition of Autism states, “Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.” Now that we know the definition of Autism is, perhaps we can understand his relation to this case. 

The parents of Jesse told the media that Daniel Briggs (the undercover officer) approached Jesse wanting to be his friend on the first day of school at his graphic arts class, and so his parents said it was a breakthrough for them that their son had a friend at school. Later on, Daniel kept asking Jesse for drugs. Jesse thought that it was right to help his friend out and get him drugs. So he went outside a dispensary and asked who he claims to be a homeless man to go inside and get him whatever he could get. 

Afterward, that’s when they arrested Jesse. The practice of what the undercover officer did was called Entrapment. Entrapment is the practice whereby a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit a crime they would have otherwise been unlikely to commit.

When I interviewed Mr. Kolb, the Assistant Principal of Pinole Valley High School about his opinion about the situation, he stated that “in general, using other students is problematic and social-emotional. Because it will affect them socially and emotionally because of their presence of power. The admin must always be careful about this situation. Why I don’t condone at all any type of substance or drug abuse, I don’t believe students should be used by those in power to impact others. I feel that would be equal to entrapment.” Mr. Kolb uses the word entrapment equal to this case. The idea that the undercover officer used Jesse Snodgrass for drugs was in fact entrapment. 

I tried to get hold of Officer Fernandez for opinions on entrapment or about this case, but unfortunately, he said he could not say anything about this case because of legal purposes. Also, he was in the middle of getting married to Ms. Marroquin. (Congratulations you two!) 

I tried looking into any comments from the Sheriff’s Office so I can add into this article. On VICE, they stated that “the Sheriffs Office has said that seeing large quantities of drugs were never the goal for Operation Glasshouse intent. All of the 22 students arrested in Temecula, were charged with felonies, some for as little as a single pill, because of California’s zero tolerance policy for drugs at schools.” It’s unfair that a person can get arrested for just having a small pill on themselves. 

The article “Student Substance Abuse: Alternatives to Zero Tolerance” states that ”by the California Convention Delegates, “Suspension or expulsion of students that use alcohol and drugs, without behavioral intervention, mentoring or rehabilitative referral, is ineffective and unsuccessful in curtailing substance abuse among students,” but a resolution for this issue is that they have to do a mandatory suspension for prevention and treatments such as programs. In the end, the judge ruled that the school district was not liable in the arrest of Jesse. 

So, it could’ve been that it was entrapment after all. But it should be certain that Jesse Snodgrass is still under the care of his parents and is recovering over time from the whole situation.