Can you imagine what life would be like without your mobile phone? Do you remember living in a world without that magic box in your purse or pocket? Can you imagine life without social media?
I know what you’re probably thinking, this sounds like torture. I’ve actually seen videos on YouTube of people documenting a self-imposed week without a cell phone, and most of them are having a hard time getting through the day. It made me laugh and shake my head, because I spent four years in prison and got used to not having a cell phone. Now, I actually still keep it at home quite often.
Prison inmates are not allowed to use mobile phones, and their access to computers is extremely limited. It’s a whole different world behind the prison walls, and not having constant access to the latest technology can make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Even if inmates don’t have cellphones and don’t have access to computers, surely they can still check social media for a few minutes now and then, right? Which leads to today’s blog post: Can You Put Facebook in Jail?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- Can inmates access the Internet?
- How Do Prison Inmates Access Social Media?
Can inmates access the Internet?
Inmates do have limited access to computers, as most facilities have some in the library or classrooms in the education building.Some facilities have also been launched prisoner pills They can be purchased in the cafeteria.
However, none of the computers or tablets available to prisoners actually have internet access. In any case, it’s not legally legal.
As you can imagine, having prisoners have access to the Internet can cause all kinds of problems for prisons. So, the answer to today’s blog post is “no”, you can’t put Facebook in jail. Again, not legal. However, more on that later.
In the Missouri women’s prison where I was incarcerated, one of the most legendary stories people talked about was about a group of inmates who scammed people out of their money. It happened about ten years before I entered the facility, but it happened.
Group of 33 inmates used prison pen pal site to scam hundreds of thousands of dollars, Missouri attorney general actually sued them and froze their accounts.
Of course, they’ll need outside help to upload the photos online, but this story perfectly illustrates why prison inmates don’t have access to the internet.
How Do Prison Inmates Access Social Media?
Well, how on earth do prison inmates get on social media if they don’t have access to the internet? In my blog posts, I often refer to the Netflix show Orange is the New Black because the show does have some fact-based storylines.
If you’ve seen it, you probably remember that the prisoners were given cellphones that were smuggled into the prison. Also, some prisoners posted on social media sites. This is based on reality, as many inmates post on social media on a daily basis – sometimes from their cells!
Some inmates have access to the Internet on prohibited mobile phones brought in by police officers or relatives during visits, but this is a huge risk. If you’re caught with your phone, you could be in the hole for months, if not years. And, if your loved ones are caught trying to smuggle a phone during their visit, they could face criminal charges.
For prisoners who don’t want to risk having a prohibited cell phone, another way inmates can gain access to social media is through friends or family members outside. TRULINCS, short for Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System, is an email service for prisoners, allowing them to send and receive emails in a secure manner.
“My mom forwards my emails and I send her my work and she takes pictures of me and posts them. When people comment on my art or my page, she forwards them for me. It helps me get my My friends and family see what I’m doing and know I’m doing something productive,” said Alex Boudreau Cook, who has served marijuana for a decade.
It’s easy to lose touch with your friends and family when you’re in prison. Many inmates are completely forgotten by those on the outside, hoping to be able to connect with people through social media. Some will even rely on ex-girlfriends and ex-wives to help them build social media pages, but this can lead to its own set of problems.
“In a perfect world, I’d have my Facebook page featuring some of my original songs and push my friends to a site I created for it,” says inmate Kevin Smith. “It would be nice to be able to access our own accounts from here, but we’re limited by the sex offender’s morbid desire to access and manipulate themselves. But I’m still happy to have this expensive, slow, monitored SMS, they call it email.”
While access to TRULINCS is great, an email usually costs about the price of a postage stamp. That means sending and receiving multiple emails can quickly become very expensive, especially considering that most inmates don’t make more than around $15 a month.
Should prisoners have restricted access to the internet? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: How prison inmates get on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Female Missouri Prisoners Make $291,000 As Sexy Pen Pals, AG Wants His Cut