SC Inmates Connecting Online, Communicating Offline

10:46 PM, Mar 12, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - State lawmakers are debating a bill that would make it illegal for an inmate in our state to be a member of an internet-based social networking site - like Facebook.

But there are some websites that connect inmates with other people the old-fashioned way, and it will still be legal.

South Carolina inmates are not allowed to use the internet, no matter what their offense. However, sites like WriteAPrisoner.com will still be allowed because they're based in regular mail, not email. And traditional pen-palling with inmates is nothing new.

"They can apply to this company, there's a fee to get your profile on there and they can write, or have someone on the outside write for them," explains Clark Newsom, Spokesperson for the Department of Corrections. 

Even though the profiles are online, the writing is done with a pen, not a keyboard. "In some cases, the inmates may have pictures that have been taken of themselves that could be sent to the company by mail," Newsom explains. 

Those that meet through sites like these have to use old-fashioned communication. When everything goes through the mail, it's easier to see who the inmates are talking to; as opposed to sites like Facebook, which are all online.

Those letters closely monitored. "We have concerns, of course, and all mail from inmates is subject to be reviewed to make sure that there's no abuse going on or we also have concerns for victims. That there's no way that they're, that inmate is harassing a victim in any way. If we find that there are victims who may not want this type of thing, then we take action there," Newsom says, "But we have a victims' session that regularly checks with them and where there has been complaints about that sort of thing, we do take action."

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