Facebook Agrees To Cut Off California Prisoners

PALO ALTO (KCBS) – Facebook officials will work with California prison officials to shut down accounts set up by inmates who use smuggled cell phones to access the social network, and even stalk their victims from inside prison.

Facebook and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will disconnect the growing number of inmates going online, many of them to write to fellow gang members.

“We’ve seen an uptick in social media access by prisoners, mainly through contraband cell phone usage,” said CDCR’s Dana Toyama. “They’re posting photos of themselves contacting victims, or possibly even coordinating with each other to commit more crimes.”

More than 7,000 cell phones have been confiscated from prisoners this year, and many of them were being used to go on Facebook or MySpace, according to prison officials.  Toyama said that some inmates even post threats on the pages of their victims.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

“They are stalking them and re-victimizing them,” said Toyama.

Prison officials confiscated 7,200 cell phones from inmates during the first six months of the year, compared to 261 six years ago.

In one case, a convicted child molester used a smuggled phone to search his victim’s Facebook and MySpace pages. He then sent current sketches of the 17-year-old to the victim’s home.

Facebook now claims it will remove any account confirmed to be operated by an inmate, or someone outside on their behalf.

There is a bill in the works to make cell phone use in prison a separate crime. For now, any prisoner caught with a phone loses good behavior or time-served credits.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Doug Sovern
  • Robin DigitalHe

    Why don’t the prisons install cell phone jammers, like there are in some movie theaters. This would solve the problem, because smuggled phones would stop working.

    • Kat

      because if there’s an emergency, the officers will need to be able to use cell phones.


    I see a typo. “Accofding” haha.

    • 34r132312312312

      and pToyama.

  • athenia

    This is disgusting! It sounds like the prison systems needs reviews on guards, and better security! They should also be charged with harrassment, and threats! It should also be a nation wide mandate! The problem is Facebook, and such needs to refuse accounts to felons, and be more aware of hate posts, and remove the poster! Yahoo is the WORST offender

  • retrostar1000

    If they gave them better food the prisoners would be happy and not want to go on facebook.

  • Make prisons hellish

    @ retrostar. What is this? This is supposed to be a prison and NOT the Hilton Hotel. Prison should be as spartan and uncomfortable so that it will instill FEAR in the minds of those who commit such acts. “Make them happy” …Go to hell

    • kat

      in korea prisoners don’t eat unless their family pays the jail. i think that should be implemented ‘cuz as they often say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, thus many families might not pay. plus why should i pay for a child molester to have three meals a day when families in my own city have one a day.

  • k

    so I think it’s pretty much common sense to keep inmates off facebook, especially if they’re using it to harass people. Also, some type of new rules have to be implemented about cell phones because there’s way too many in this jail, and in jails elsewhere. I mean these people are in JAIL, thus meaning they did something BAD, so why should they be pampered at all? give em hard beds with concrete everywhere and no tv. some of these jails are nice than apartments or dorm rooms, it’s b.s. it’s teaching people that you can do bad things and still live it up.

  • seattlebound

    thats disgusting imagine where the phones have to be to be SMUGGLED into a PRISON….

    thats right either that or the prisioners get them from the guards, or from visits with the GF. any way its too bad that prison time menas 3 hots and a cot and time away from all the child support and bill and rent and tax paying, and a vacation with the homies, watching cable, gambling, getting to do things a lot fo us wish we could like get a education or learn a new trade, fuk these prisioners, do it like sheriff joe does in arizona lets make chain gangs and rock breaking a comeback, its proper to have a retro theme at your business these days isnt it?

  • KatW

    Its easy to be hard on inmates until some one you care about ends up behind bars. Prison systems need to evolve. The inmates should have their own site that is monitored where authorized family and friends can have access. The inmates that stay connected to their families have lower recidivism rates which in turn cost the tax payer less. Maybe Facebook could propose a alternative?

  • Kat

    @KatW, I don’t think anyone in my family is dumb enough to end up in jail. I don’t think they should be able to use any social media network to communicate. They’re in jail for a reason, let them write letters and mail ’em. they don’t need the internet or tv or any luxury.

  • Cinamon C. Colley

    Prisons existed long before cell phones and computers. And prisons will be here long after. What is wrong with you people. Prisoners are there for a reason. They are being punished!!!! If your child steals money out of your purse, do you say, “good girl, let’s go buy you a new computer”. NO!! They should simply not allow prisoners cell phones or computers. If there is protest due to access to appeals info, the prison should be set up with an adequate library. Maybe they will all be a little calmer if they can’t get frusterated or hyped up from “playing” on the computer. This issue is one that gets my blood hot, so I will stop now.

  • Cinamon C. Colley

    @KatW…….I did have someone in my family in the system. We still would have gone to visit her and she was able to call us. Each inmate having their owm site? Get real. Why don’t you try figuring out how much more debt our country would be in. How can anyone feel safe on the computer knowing that you not only could get hacked but that guy who is sooo perfect on that dating site is really who he says he is, he just chose to leave out the fact that he is in prison for whatever amount of time for whatever their crime was. If they are loved by family and friends, then they will get visits. Committing a crime is not a ticket to 3 squares and all the computer time and cell phone texting you want or the overcrowding problem would be way worse with the economy the way it is right now.

  • Teri

    So, just don’t give them access to electrical outlets in order to charge them. Problem solved.

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