Facebook takes down California inmate accounts
August 9, 2011
Inmates with unauthorized access to cell phones have been posting Facebook pages from inside California prisons, as well as trolling victims’ pages and harassing them, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
As a result, prison authorities have begun reporting inmate Facebook accounts to the social media’s security department, which will remove the accounts.
“Access to social media allows inmates to circumvent our monitoring process and continue to engage in criminal activity,” CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate said. “This new cooperation between law enforcement and Facebook will help protect the community and potentially avoid future victims.”
The numbers of inmate accounts have been increasing, illegally maintained by an inmate or by someone on the outside.
Many of these accounts, CDCR reports, have been used to make threats to victims or make sexual advances.
Last year, a child molester used a cell phone to find the MySpace and Facebook pages of his victim, according to CDCR, which received a call from the victim’s mother.
The family had been on vacation and found several pieces of mail from the molester, who was still confined in a state prison, when they returned home. The mail contained several accurate drawings of the 17-year-old daughter. It had been seven years since the offender had been convicted and sent to prison.
The prison artist rendered accurately the style of his victim’s hair and clothes, leading investigators to the discovery that he had used the cell phone to access her pages and download her photographs.
CDCR has seen a massive influx in the number of cell phones being used by prisoners. In 2006, correctional officers confiscated 261 devices, while in the first six months of this year, more than 7,284 were confiscated.
Prison employees, who don’t get searched on the way into work, have long been considered the primary source for illegal phones, which can fetch as much as $1,000 each, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Currently, it is a violation of prison rules to smuggle a phone inside and pass it to an inmate, but it is not illegal. So a profiteering employee can be fired but not prosecuted.
A pending bill by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) would make smuggling a phone to an inmate a crime punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.