Facebook pages of California inmates to be shut down, prison officials say

The Sacramento BeeAugust 9, 2011 

Facebook "friend" requests from strangers are common, but state corrections officials say they are moving to stop use of the social network by prison inmates.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Monday that it's working with Facebook security officials to shut down inmate pages that have been set up by prisoners using contraband cellphones or that have been arranged for an inmate's use by someone outside of prison.

"Access to social media allows inmates to circumvent our monitoring process and continue to engage in criminal activity," corrections Secretary Matthew Cate said in a prepared statement. "This new cooperation between law enforcement and Facebook will help protect the community and potentially avoid future victims."

The heightened security comes as prison officials grapple with an explosion in the number of cellphones being found among prison inmates, including one found with mass murderer Charles Manson last year.

There were 261 cellphones confiscated among inmates in 2006, the department said. That number jumped to more than 7,200 in the first six months of this year.

The department said it has seen evidence of inmates using Facebook pages to issue threats or make sexual advances toward potential or past victims.

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