Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
The Internet homepage of the social networking website Facebook.
California prison officials announced this week they’re cracking down on inmates who use social media to commit new crimes. California’s Department of Corrections says a new agreement with Facebook is helping them shut down inmates’ accounts.
Last year the mother of young woman who was sexually molested as a child received drawings in the mail from the man convicted of the crime. The sex offender — still behind bars in California — had sent accurate depictions of his now 17-year-old victim. An investigation later revealed the prisoner accessed recent photos of her on her Facebook site.
Corrections’ Dana Toyama blames a proliferation of wireless devices being smuggled into prisons. More than 7,000 were confiscated this year.
"You’ve got high-level gang members and criminals being able to reach out to their victims or commit more crimes within their cell." says Toyama.
Facebook has had a policy of closing the accounts of convicted sex offenders. Now it’s promised to close the account of any one serving time in prison, even if that person’s page is kept active by a friend or relative on the outside.
The Department of Corrections receives hundreds of complaints from victims each year who’ve been contacted by prisoners using Facebook.