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Facebook for Prisoners? California Officials Crack Down After Inmates Use Social Networking For Crime

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Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 8:01 AM

click to enlarge Hello, friend. - CDCR
  • CDCR
  • Hello, friend.
California is cracking down on prisoners who use Facebook from behind bars, especially if they turn to social networking to threaten people or to run criminal enterprises.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the effort this week, stating that it "has seen numerous instances in which inmates, using their Facebook accounts, have delivered threats to victims or have made unwanted sexual advances."

The CDCR says it's working with the Facebook Security Department to shutdown inmates' pages. But, interestingly, there's one exception:

If a criminal had his FB profile before he went behind bars, he can keep it, so long as he doesn't use it while locked up.

The problem, one we've documented extensively here at the Weekly: There's a flow of contraband cellphones and smartphones coming into the prison system, allowing inmates to access social networking cites.

The CDCR says more than 7,284 phones were confiscated behind bars this year.

CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate:

Access to social media allows inmates to circumvent our monitoring process and continue to engage in criminal activity.

The department gave this example of social networking gone wrong:

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.

click to enlarge Status: On lockdown. - CDCR
  • CDCR
  • Status: On lockdown.

Feel like you're being creeped on by an inmate via Facebook? Call the CDCR's Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services: 1-877-256-6877.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]

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