U.S. state may move against prison Facebook users

Wed Feb 9, 2011 5:52pm EST
 
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By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C. Feb 9 (Reuters Life!) - Prisoners in the state of South Carolina caught with banned cell phones, which are often tossed over a prison fence to them, can face solitary confinement and loss of visitation and canteen privileges.

But those caught updating their status on their Facebook page, by cell phone or any other means, might soon be looking at 30 extra days behind bars and a $500 fine.

Representative Wendell Gilliard, a Democrat from Charleston, has introduced a bill that would make it unlawful for an inmate to be a member of any internet social-networking site, and would provide a penalty on conviction for the offense.

Other state legislators seem to think it's a good idea. The bill has 12 co-sponsors.

Gilliard said on Wednesday in an interview with Reuters that he's had e-mails from constituents and chats with prison guards about inmates on Facebook.

Earlier this month, a local newspaper detailed the profiles of South Carolina prison Facebookers such as Anthony "Tony" Enriquez, 34, serving life without parole for murdering a man he robbed of a pack of cigarettes.

The newspaper quoted a friend of Enriquez's victim who was shocked to find the killer on Facebook.

Gilliard said those and other stories prompted him to act. He expects the legislation to be debated and pass quickly, he said.   Continued...