Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Solitary Confinement For Posting On Facebook...!

We all know that at times the penal system seems broken here in the United States. In some states it seems to be more broken than in others.

I have to wonder why prisoners even have access to the Internet in the first place. After reading this article on KnowledgeNuts, I was shocked at how out of control some of the punishments seemed to be. Read this and see if you agree.

Where Posting On Facebook Is Punished As Harshly As Murder
By Heather Ramsey on Thursday, April 2, 2015

In 2014, a researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered that the South Carolina Department of Corrections was punishing inmates for using social media as harshly as if they had murdered, raped, or taken someone hostage. In one of the most draconian cases, Tyheem Henry received a sentence of almost 38 years in solitary confinement for posting on Facebook for 38 days. Inmates are often prohibited from using social media to ensure that they don’t engage in witness intimidation, contraband drops, or other illegal activity. However, even in South Carolina, the misuse of solitary confinement for these infractions may be changing.

In 2014, a researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) discovered that the South Carolina Department of Corrections was punishing inmates for using social media as harshly as if they had murdered, raped, or taken someone hostage. Almost 400 inmates in the last three years have received punishments ranging from loss of visitation rights and telephone access to solitary confinement. Research has shown that solitary confinement for more than a very short time can cause mental problems or make existing mental illness worse. In some cases, prisoners are more likely to commit other crimes, especially violent ones.

Sometimes, inmates are simply trying to keep in touch with their families or stay on top of current events. But inmates are often prohibited from using social media to ensure that they don’t engage in witness intimidation, contraband drops, or other illegal activity. If prison officials find that an inmate has visited a social media site, they believe the inmate has been using a contraband cell phone. Otherwise, he or she probably wouldn’t have direct access to the Internet.

“Any hole in the system—and social media is a hole into the system—is a way for them to continue their criminal ways,” said South Carolina Department Director Bryan P. Stirling. “There needs to be a punishment that’s worse than, ‘No candy for you today,’ or, ‘You won’t see your mother.’ There has to be something more severe than that.”

In some cases, South Carolina prisoners have received solitary confinement sentences that are longer than the sentences they received for the crimes that sent them to prison. For example, Tyheem Henry received a sentence of almost 38 years in solitary confinement for posting on Facebook for 38 days. He also lost 74 years of visitation rights and telephone access. However, Mr. Henry won’t have to serve 38 years in solitary because he was sent to prison for only 5–10 years. On average, though, South Carolina gives inmates 512 days in solitary confinement if they’re caught on social media websites.

According to the EFF, that’s harsh even by prison standards, although South Carolina isn’t the only state that has allegedly misused solitary confinement. California has been sued for imposing solitary confinement sentences for as long as 10–28 years. New Mexico spent $15.5 million to settle the case of a man accused of drunk driving who was thrown into solitary for 22 months while awaiting trial. His case was never prosecuted.

In the South Carolina cases of inmates posting on social media, the punishments are especially harsh because they’re considered to be Level 1 offenses, which are the most violent transgressions of the prison code of conduct. That makes posting on social media similar to murdering, raping, or taking someone hostage. Inmates receive a separate Level 1 violation for each day they access social media. So inmates who post one update on Facebook for each of 10 days receive 10 Level 1 violations, but inmates who post 50 updates all in one day receive just one Level 1 violation.

The EFF uses this example to demonstrate the severity of this policy: “if a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks.”

In some states, inmates may be punished if someone else, even a family member, accesses social media on their behalf. Depending on the state, the go-between may also be prosecuted.

However, even in South Carolina, the misuse of solitary confinement may be changing. Recently, Mr. Stirling revised South Carolina’s disciplinary policy to reduce the maximum amount of time spent in solitary confinement to 60 day for each infraction or related group of infractions.

What I want to know is how can someone that kills another person get less time than a person posting on a social media site? Something very wrong there!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!

8 comments:

Judy said...

In Kansas at one time, if you killed someone while in the joint/prison you only got 5 to 10 years tacked onto your sentence.

And God help you, if you were robbing railroads on either side of the Kansas/Oklahoma border. I heard about a guy that was transfered from McAlester, OK to Lansing, KS in a covered wagon. He was still in Lansing and this was in the early 70s. Every time he came up for parole the railroads would be there to request he finish his sentence.

HermitJim said...

Hey Judy...
Seems to me that our whole prison system needs some kind of overhaul.

I have no idea where to even start, though.

Thanks for stopping by today!

linda m said...

Our prison system is very out dated and totally screwed up. It used to be a deterrent to crime. Now in some cases people deliberately commit a crime just to get 3 squares and free health care. As you said - I have no idea where to even start. Good eye opener this morning. Thanks for sharing this one.

Mamahen said...

I had no idea it waa THAT messed up..thank you for the info!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Texas' big prison is in Huntsville and I have driven by it many, many times. I just hope none of my drives stop there for a few years (grin).

ladyhawthorne said...

So why don't they just block the social media sites from being accessed? There are all kinds of programs, some for free, that let you set that up. Sheesh, these people are pretty dumb to overlook the obvious answer to the problem.

JO said...

In AZ there are no computers in prisons for the inmates in the first place. They don't get free medical anymore, they are not supplied with person hygiene supplies , so they better have someone putting money on their books or get jobs in the prison system.

Pass the coffee pot please

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda M...
I'm glad that you liked it. Screwed up is putting it mildly, I'm afraid!

Thanks for dropping by today!



Hey Mamahen...
More than we will ever know, I fear!

Thanks for stopping by today!



Hey Dizzy...
Just make sure you don't slow down too much. You do look a little shady, ya know!

Thanks for coming by this morning!