Social media being exploited by prisoners
Sacramento, Calif.- The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today announced it has begun reporting Facebook accounts set up and monitored by prison inmates to the Facebook Security Department. Facebook accounts set up and/or monitored on behalf of an inmate will be removed, as it is a violation of Facebook’s user policies.
“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 Federal Bureau of Prisons National Gang Intelligence Center has reported increasing instances of inmates with active Facebook accounts. These active accounts are either maintained illegally by inmates or are administered by an outside person on behalf of the inmate.
As part of its ongoing efforts to ensure public safety both inside and outside the state’s prisons, CDCR has been actively monitoring Facebook for accounts administered by inmates or on behalf of an inmate. 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.
Inmates are allowed to have Facebook profiles created prior to incarceration. If any evidence shows the account has been used while in the facility, Facebook Security will disable the account.
Over the past few years 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.
To report a Facebook account that you suspect is being administered by an inmate, or an outside party on behalf of the inmate, please contact CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights & Services, call toll free 1-877-256-OVSS (6877).