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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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