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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

Jolted: How do you prosecute a crime that never happened?

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

A five-part podcast about a school shooting that didn’t happen, the line between thought and crime, and a Republican governor in a rural state who changed his mind about gun laws. ⠀⠀

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

The Shooting That Didn't Happen


Investigative reporting


Nina Keck

Sound/production quality:

Very good

Rating/age suitability:


Approximate length of episodes:

15-30 minutes

Curricular ties:

This may work well in an advisory setting for high schoolers, mainly because the crisis was averted when the would-be shooter's friend alerted police, thereby thwarting the plan. Teens can be hesitant to speak up when they hear something like that, but it's good for them to know that there are cases, like this, when it is necessary to report a friend/classmate.

Similar recommended pods:


Podcast Librarian’s Review:

How do you prosecute a crime that never happened? Can you come to a verdict based on intent to murder alone? This short (5 episodes plus a bonus update) series follows the story of Jack Sawyer, a Vermont teen who made known his intent to commit mass murder in a planned school shooting. That plan was foiled when a concerned friend alerted police, leading to Jack’s arrest. The story of his trial going to the Vermont Supreme Court is interesting on a basic level, but where it gets even more fascinating is that this incident (or non-incident, as it were) led to the Republican governor passing strict gun laws in a state that previously had barely any restrictions on firearms. Episode 4 covers this and goes into the complicated and conflicting views that Vermont residents hold regarding firearms. The final episode explores the uneasiness that a community feels when someone who has demonstrated intent to kill is released back into society. Although the series is a year old, it is (unfortunately) still timely. Not surprisingly, this Vermont Public Radio production is very well-made, and I enjoyed how it touched on several issues besides the shooting threat. I felt the podcast gave equal weight to both sides of the gun control debate, which is important in a state that has a long history of firearm use and ownership but is also home to many liberal-leaning folks who may have conflicting views. One of the best parts of this story was that the whole tragedy was averted because Jack’s friend told the authorities about her concerns. It’s an important lesson to students that they should do the same if put in the same situations, even if they are scared and fear retribution.

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