US prison system proposes total social media ban for inmates, sparking First Amendment concerns

midian182

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A hot potato: Should incarcerated individuals be allowed to use social media? The US federal prison system has proposed a change in its rules that would see prisoners who use these platforms punished. Even directing others to establish and use social media accounts on their behalf would be prohibited in some cases. Civil liberties advocates say this would infringe on the First Amendment rights of people both in and out of prison.

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) earlier this year proposed a rule change that makes accessing, using, or maintaining social media accounts by prisoners a high-severity-level prohibited act considered to be on the same scale as fighting, blackmail, extortion, and bribery.

Federal inmates are already banned from using cell phones and restricted from accessing the Internet, Reuters reports.

The BOP argues that if an inmate's Facebook account were being operated to convey content from the inmate himself, it would open the door to them communicating with a virtually unlimited number of individuals, including affiliated gang members and the victims of their crimes.

Inmates' rights advocacy groups say that the rule would restrict the First Amendment rights of not only prisoners but also people who are not in BOP custody. Ebony Underwood, whose nonprofit We Got Us Now works with the children of incarcerated parents, called the social media proposal "archaic and so inhumane."

"Social media has been an avenue for so many young people in my community to be able to advocate for our parents," she added.

Advocates say that the rules could stop people from making posts about inmates in case it leads to a serious punishment such as a longer prison term, solitary confinement, or a deduction of good time credits.

A separate part of the proposed rule change would enable the Bureau to target and eliminate inmates' use of fund transfer services like CashApp. When inmates use these services to send and receive money, Bureau staff are unable to monitor the transfers due to the platforms' use of encryption.

Back in 2021, it was discovered that Facebook was testing an app that helps prisoners transition back into society. We've heard little else about the Re-Entry app since then, though there are other apps that offer similar services.

Masthead: vickens_dan

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Last I checked, social media/internet access wasn't a right in the US.....

It would certainly degrade the experience of certain inmates (and/or their family). And they shouldn't be able to "control" media outside of the prisons. But I don't see how the advocacy's other arguments against it make sense.
 
Social media restrictions for prisoners should be set up with the same or very similar restrictions as postal mail and/or phone calls already are; determining what level of communication prisons should have with the outside world is not a new problem.

And if the prisoners are using social media to communicate with outside gang members and the like, well let them. Just you know, monitor said communication and forward that to law enforcement in that jurisdiction. Should make catching more criminals easier.

And as for stuff like private communication with their attorneys, well the obvious solution to me would be to allow the prisoners to write stuff to an encrypted container of some sort, and then only allow them to email said attachments to a whitelist with their lawyer's email address in it. Do the same for receiving emails. Not really a difficult thing to implement.
 
"if an inmate's Facebook account were being operated to convey content from the inmate himself, it would open the door to them communicating with a virtually unlimited number of individuals, including affiliated gang members and the victims of their crimes."

Okay, so they are technically not wrong about this. It does occur to me that, whenever I see a post from an inmate on an forum like Quora, it is probably the result of a liaison between the inmate and a third-party posting on their behalf. However, I would argue that this does not rule out the capacity for inmates to use social media. Instead, it should limit the degree of their access.

Inmates possess a unique experience that the law-abiding public is not privy to and that is not to be discounted. You might say "so what? They lost their right to voice a complaint, when they committed a crime!" and to that I say "not so. Prison is supposed to be a suppressant/deterrent against bad behavior, not a total elimination of humanity." First-hand accounts of complaints by inmates is invaluable information. Especially in the case of for-profit prisons, where profit margins are the top priority, it cannot be denied that people witnessing those situations in real-time is better than news footage ever could be and we need access to that data.

Furthermore, the fact of the matter is that we are well past the point where Internet is "optional" for modern living. I mean, sure, if you're from a rural part of the country, then Internet access was always spotty and that was a fact of life. But, for better or worse, it has become an utterly necessary utility for everyone, on par with usage of the telephone 20 years earlier. Internet access and access to information about the world generally is the difference between complete isolation and separation from normal human existence and partial comprehension of it. Depending on the terms of the sentence, access should be more or less available, and crimes involving computers will be looked at with special interest. But, if someone is going to be soon re-introduced to society, having Internet or social media access would, indeed, ease that transition back into the "civilized world".

Now, do I think unfettered access to something like Facebook is a good idea? No, I do not. However, I believe social media usage should be monitored and contingent on good behavior, where inmates are rewarded in "post credits", aka they are allotted a certain number of posts on a given site per visit to a computer terminal, but otherwise have to use it like an RSS feed--they can view social media, but not reply to anyone. Should they try to contact a gang or their victim, otherwise engage in criminal behavior, I mean...their computer usage is being logged. They are in prison, so almost by definition they can't "get away with" more crimes, if a task unit is on their case.

So, while I do agree that prisoners should have reduced access, I disagree with the idea of "no access".
 
So the American prison system is ****ED UP and I doubt anyone in this comments section ever did anytime, so let me explain something to you about prison/jail. You have different levels. You have federal penitentiary, state penitentiary, state prisons, you have county jails and you have what are essentially "camps."

All crimes are not equal and there are a disgusting amount of people in jail for crimes they didn't commit. For federal and state penitentiarys, they should not have access to internet. Even people in prisons and jails should not have internet access. However, the camps that for people who essentially were unable to pay a fine on time for misdemeanor offenses should. Gang members, pedos and violent criminals should absolutely not have access to the internet. As far as the kid in a camp who got caught with a gram of weed in Texas, I don't give a **** if he has internet access.

And here is a fun fact for you. We have approximately 1/20th the world's population but have 1/4th the world's prisoners.

If you never had a bologna sandwich in jail and know why honeybuns are worth money then you don't have the right to an opinion on this
 
So the American prison system is ****ED UP and I doubt anyone in this comments section ever did anytime, so let me explain something to you about prison/jail. You have different levels. You have federal penitentiary, state penitentiary, state prisons, you have county jails and you have what are essentially "camps."

All crimes are not equal and there are a disgusting amount of people in jail for crimes they didn't commit. For federal and state penitentiarys, they should not have access to internet. Even people in prisons and jails should not have internet access. However, the camps that for people who essentially were unable to pay a fine on time for misdemeanor offenses should. Gang members, pedos and violent criminals should absolutely not have access to the internet. As far as the kid in a camp who got caught with a gram of weed in Texas, I don't give a **** if he has internet access.

And here is a fun fact for you. We have approximately 1/20th the world's population but have 1/4th the world's prisoners.

If you never had a bologna sandwich in jail and know why honeybuns are worth money then you don't have the right to an opinion on this

No one is claiming that all crimes are equal so it's baffling that you even brought that up. As for your claim that no one is entitled to an opinion on this matter unless they've served in prison/jail, that is just ludicrous. You've probably never fought in a war nor been drafted but I'm damn sure you have an OUTSPOKEN opinion regarding wars, the draft, etc... You don't have the right to police speech anymore than you have the right to police people's thoughts and opinions. So yeah, I have the right to my opinions as well as the right to post them anywhere or talk about them unless I'm a Chinese citizen living in China. Replace the word China with North Korea or the despotic dictatorship of your choice. As for you claim that the USA has the world's largest population of prisoners, you're ignoring the fact that China and North Korea have much larger populations of prisoners and they will never report their true numbers.
 
So the American prison system is ****ED UP and I doubt anyone in this comments section ever did anytime, so let me explain something to you about prison/jail. You have different levels. You have federal penitentiary, state penitentiary, state prisons, you have county jails and you have what are essentially "camps."

All crimes are not equal and there are a disgusting amount of people in jail for crimes they didn't commit. For federal and state penitentiarys, they should not have access to internet. Even people in prisons and jails should not have internet access. However, the camps that for people who essentially were unable to pay a fine on time for misdemeanor offenses should. Gang members, pedos and violent criminals should absolutely not have access to the internet. As far as the kid in a camp who got caught with a gram of weed in Texas, I don't give a **** if he has internet access.

And here is a fun fact for you. We have approximately 1/20th the world's population but have 1/4th the world's prisoners.

If you never had a bologna sandwich in jail and know why honeybuns are worth money then you don't have the right to an opinion on this

Yes, the for-profit prison system in the US is extremely messed up. Incentivizing keeping people in prison for monetary gain.


Prison is about punishment, but it should also be about rehabilitation. You can't just lock'em up and throw away the key. You're only propagating the problem.

The reality is plenty of non-white people are in prison for crimes that white people just get to slide on. A recent example that comes to mind:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news...ud-election-crime-sentencing-racial-disparity

Now, one of those people voted for his dead relatives which is clear and blatant voter fraud. He's a white male. He's on probation The other was told by an official they were eligible to vote, but in fact were not. She voted once for herself. She's a black female. She was sentenced to 6 years in jail. However, due to the public out cry this was reversed and after 6 years she was actually acquiited, but it took 6 years. However, there are plenty of instances like this that occur all the time. The white person gets off with a wrist slap for the same crime a poor / non-white person gets thrown in jail for.

I'm fine with making it equal justice for all, but pick a lane. As of 2022 numbers show 911 black people per 100k vs. 188 per 100k for white people are in prison. Now, some of you will jump on the "black people are just violent" train, but that train just isn't going to carry almost 4x over the amount of people as the white train. Socio-economics has something to do with it, but a lot of it is just due to blatant racism.

https://bjs.ojp.gov/document/p22st.pdf
 
So the American prison system is ****ED UP and I doubt anyone in this comments section ever did anytime, so let me explain something to you about prison/jail. You have different levels. You have federal penitentiary, state penitentiary, state prisons, you have county jails and you have what are essentially "camps."
Agreed.
All crimes are not equal and there are a disgusting amount of people in jail for crimes they didn't commit.
Its lawful for police in the US to say anything, even if its a lie, to get a suspect to confess. Agreed. There is a significant amount of injustice in the US "Justice" system.
For federal and state penitentiarys, they should not have access to internet. Even people in prisons and jails should not have internet access. However, the camps that for people who essentially were unable to pay a fine on time for misdemeanor offenses should. Gang members, pedos and violent criminals should absolutely not have access to the internet. As far as the kid in a camp who got caught with a gram of weed in Texas, I don't give a **** if he has internet access.
There's no guarantee that criminals of any sort would not use social media to continue criminal behavior. If they can keep access to social media, why not let them vote?
And here is a fun fact for you. We have approximately 1/20th the world's population but have 1/4th the world's prisoners.
Source?
If you never had a bologna sandwich in jail and know why honeybuns are worth money then you don't have the right to an opinion on this
Wiow! Talk about cancel culture.
 
Agreed.

Its lawful for police in the US to say anything, even if its a lie, to get a suspect to confess. Agreed. There is a significant amount of injustice in the US "Justice" system.

There's no guarantee that criminals of any sort would not use social media to continue criminal behavior. If they can keep access to social media, why not let them vote?

Source?

Wiow! Talk about cancel culture.

https://www.statista.com/statistics...h-the-most-prisoners-per-100-000-inhabitants/

We're #6 in the world per capita and #1 in overall total amount of people in prison.
 
Prisoners don't need social media. They need to focus on getting out of their current self-imposed dilemma.

Whether they're black, white, brown or purple, all the same. Speaking of incarceration rates, targeted individuals, etc. - none of that is related to this article.
 
That's bleeding heart liberals for you.
Really?
What's your source?

Here is mine after 3mins of searching....

"Planning for Saturday’s protest duplicates how inmates in 24 states used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in September to stage a work strike." -January 2017

24 sounds like a lot to be just liberal states.
 
You're a prisoner, you gave up your rights the moment you committed a crime and were sentenced. Period. Mic drop.

But you can't just 'give up' your rights. The Constitution says they're inalienable.

In practice, they will be restricted only in those areas where they conflict with the ability to enforce your incarceration. Because that's the punishment. Not the total suspension of your human rights.
 
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Oh sony, I have a opinion on anything I want. And is not you, inside you little bubble, that will stop me.

If only people we're as passionate about the rights of people other than themselves and those close to them.
 
What's your source?
Because it's the liberal policies that have messed up society. No cash bail. Not prosecuting unless the theft is over $1000. Heck, a police officer in New York was recently killed while on the job by someone who had been arrested 27 TIMES!!! How was this obvious criminal let loose back on the streets? Liberal polices, that's how.
 
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But you can't just 'give up' your rights. The Constitution says they're inalienable.
No. If someone murders someone or commits any other crime that society considers heinous... they deserve nothing less than being buried in a deep dark hole.
 
That's bleeding heart liberals for you.

The general right to communicate by mail or phone is well established in legal precedent, why should it be different for electronic means?

I assume by 'bleeding heart liberals' you mean those who think the Constitution is important. Like the Supreme Court, for instance.
 
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