First off, did you know the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has its own daily newspaper? It’s called CDCR Today and it’s a wonderful read! Actually it’s a blog and it’s not daily but, hey, sometimes ideas start small and then snowball into major media empires.
According to CDCR Today, California prisons apparently have something of a Facebook problem—as in, inmates are setting up Facebook accounts somehow or having accounts set up on their behalf by outsiders.
And what’s the harm in doing a little social networking from behind bars, you may be wondering?
“The department has seen numerous instances in which inmates, using their Facebook accounts, have delivered threats to victims or have made unwanted sexual advances.
Last year, CDCR received a call from a mother of a victim of a child molester. The family had just returned from vacation to find several pieces of mail from the offender who was in state prison. The mail contained accurate drawings of the woman’s 17-year old daughter, even though it had been at least seven years since the offender had been convicted and sent to prison. Details of the victim, such as how she wore her hair and the brand of clothes she wore were accurate. An investigation revealed the inmate had used a cell phone to find and view the MySpace and Facebook web pages of the victim. With access to the pages, the offender was able to obtain current photos, which he used to draw his pictures.”
So Facebook is part of the problem, yes, but access to internet-connected devices seems to be the bigger issue here. The CDCR says that 261 such gadgets were confiscated from prisoners in 2006, “while in the first six months of this year, more than 7,284 were confiscated.” Wow.
Inmates are allowed to have a Facebook profile before they get locked up but “if any evidence shows the account has been used while in the facility, Facebook Security will disable the account.” That includes “accounts set up and/or monitored on behalf of an inmate,” too.