Monday, March 21, 2011

Facebook As Free Speech

I'd like you to read the following article. Read it thoroughly so you can understand all the arguments. Now post your ideas on the following.
1. If a prisoner is allowed to send mail to the outside world (knowing it is monitored), should he/she be allowed to use a prison's computer to create a facebook page (if it is monitored). I'm not talking about using contraband cell phones. What if the prison allowed internet use for some prisoners?
2. Should state laws be put in place that would block outsiders (third party friends/family) from creating facebook pages for people in prison? The article states "Inmates in federal prison and a handful of other jurisdictions also have limited access to e-mail, and typically can only send it to people who have previously agreed to it." If that is the case, should laws ban criminals from having third parties set up the page and fill it with content emailed by the prisoner.
3. What is your general feeling on the article. It's easy to say that prisoners don't deserve access to social media when they are paying their time. That may be totally true. But can you think of ways in which a prisoner's right to free speech may be violated by these laws? Perhaps an even bigger question is whether you think prisoners should have the right to free speech at all?

18 comments:

CLiddell said...

After reading the article, I agree that prisons should not be allowed to create facebook pages or participate in any outside social network sites, whether it is monitored or not. When you are on these sites, you don't know who you are talking too. I really don't see anything wrong with inmates having access to the internet, as long as it is monitored. I agree and believe that prisons use these sites such as facbook to continue criminal activities and to intimated others. It is a great thing for state laws to block family and friends of inimates from creating these pages for them. I am a firm believer of the First Amendment, but, I think that once you are in prison, your right to speech becomes very limited. Therefore, I don't think a prisoner should have the same access to the First Amendment as people on the outside. However,inmates still have a vast amount of free speech, but communicating on the popular social sites is a bit much. I already feel like they are living it up in jail with eveything there being free and all. But, now they get to chat and enjoy more than the free citizen?

ABilly said...

I read the article and believe that prisoners gave up their rights to be free and live like other people in the U.S.A. so even though they do have some rights to free speech, they should not be able to get on internet social networking sites of any type.
After all, they do have their mail monitored for hidden messages. I don't know if the prison can monitor all internet actions regardless of it being email or social networking. I think if it can be monitored then it would be ok but since there is a possiblity that messages are getting out to other gang members and to family members then who is going to stop them from intimadating victims?

I am all for the stopping of Third Parties to create pages for prisoners and to have them update it for them. If they want to be on a social network site then they could do it after they have served their time and get out. Family members or friends of the prisoner should think about how it can offend a person who was a victim.

I know facebook asks you to accept or decline a friend so if people don't know who is asking to be your friend just declined them and they will not be able contact you.

candrews_4 said...

This article really makes you think. I do agree with not allowing inmates to have any kind of access to electronic devices. If you do the crime, you have to do the time without any distractions. Maybe they could allow inmates that have been behaving well could have access to the internet as long as it is monitored of course in all detail. They could do whatever within limits. There is always going to be someone trying to beat the system and unfortunately they succeed for a while.
Facebook for prisoners may be a good way for them to interact with their loved ones or their lawyers or something. I don’t think there should be a law though. It would be more convenient and guards could monitor them, but only for good behaving inmates. Whether its email or Facebook, it would just need to be monitored.
I believe everyone has the right to freedom of speech. There are always two sides to every story and they do have the right to explain themselves. There is no reason to automatically shut them down for saying what they need to say. That doesn’t mean give them sympathy, it just means listen to what they have to say and keep it moving, on to the next. Believe it or not, some prisoners do learn and become better in prison. Some people actually do learn from their mistakes. So while they are serving time, there could be some incentives. If I was president of governor of a state, I would allow it only to good behavior inmates, and they would have to work hard for it and whatever screen or website they go to, would have to be monitored very closely.
Now, they are crazy if they know they did it and there is evidence and they are as guilty and trying to send out a free speech, they shouldn’t be allowed still saying they are innocent. Islam Dunn should not have a phone in prison. No one should because you can’t monitor that. He can use the prison phone and internet that is monitored. All in all, they all need to be monitored because you never know what they are up to, which is the reason they are in prison now.

SarahLear said...

Ultimately, I am against inmates having any access to social media privileges. First of all, I don't see how it can be completely monitored, especially if cell phones are being snuck in to some prisons. I for one would be very intimated and bothered if a currently incarcerated person requested to be my friend on Facebook. There's just something bothersome about it. Access to the Internet in general isn't as big an issue, I don't think. It's easy to limit which sites can be visited on certain computers and easy to personally monitor too.
I also agree that prisoners gave up quite a bit of their freedom when they chose to commit the act which landed them in jail. Just as they can't visit freely with anyone they please from the outside world, I don't think they should be able to have to opportunity to communicate with them via Facebook with either. I think some very dangerous results could come from that. I can't exactly explain it, but a letter is more difficult. You have to know the person's address and the whole process takes longer, so to me it's less appealing. Keeping inmates from having access to social media sites may bring up issues with their free speech rights but like I said, some of those are already limited once in prison. I think their free speech should be limited to other prisoners, their lawyers, and the people who voluntarily come to visit them. I'm not even sure allowing letters to be exchanged is the best idea. I definitely don't think a third party should be able to create a page for people in prison. First of all I don't see the point on behalf of the third party. Secondly, I really just don't see why an inmate would want/need a Facebook page anyways. It's not like they are able to check it that often and when they do it's strictly monitored? That doesn't seem like worth having much to me, though I guess it's different when you're in prison and you're already so limited in human interaction.
Overall, I don't see Facebook for prisoners as a good idea, whether created by themselves or another person. I think it can only do more harm than good and I think a lot of people would be bothered by it.

sswog said...

The world has changed so much because of the Internet. The post office use to be a strong entity in the United States. Today, it suffers because people would rather send an email than write a letter. Prisons use a monitoring system on all letters. I do not see a problem with states setting up a system to allow inmates to use the Internet. They are people too, and though they have committed a crime, they do have the right to freedom of speech. I think allowing the prisoners some time on the Internet may help eliminate the problem of illegal cell phone use. I do not believe that third party persons should be punished for setting up social pages for inmates. These people are only friends or family members trying to make the best of a bad situation. They believe they are giving their loved ones hope. And they are praying this could change these convicted criminals. I do not support the illegal cell phone usage, and I do not think it is right for the inmates to make threats or plot against others while they are in jail. I do know that systems are in place in schools that allow teachers to monitor their students while they are online. If it works in the classroom, why can't it work in prison? Are they not both financed and regulated by the state?

aben said...

I feel that no prisoner should have a facebook page. Wether it was created by them or a third party. I feel they are not entitled to have internet access. Yes, some inmate's crime aren't severe as others, but I feel that when they did their crime they lost their privileges. Third parties should not be allowed to create pages for inmates because I feel that victims in the situation the prisoners were invloved deserve respect. The victims and their families were wronged, and the prisoner should not be rewarded with having access to life outside the prison walls. I do realize some inmates would want to have one with good intentions in mind such as communicating with family, but I beleive they should still be punished. Prisons should stay with communication by mail, and laws should be put in place blockiing third parties creating facebook pages.

JG Hanks said...

Although I am definitely for the premise of free speech, I am more concerned with the funding issues and illogical repercussions with the idea of letting inmates use social networking, cell phones, etc. If they are allowed to use Facebook, but only if monitored, who foots the bill for the monitoring? It's true that many inmates are not the hardened criminals we believe them to be, but they are still inmates. They did something to get themselves in jail or prison. Rewarding them by allowing access to the outside offers no incentive or consequence for changing their behavior.

It is comparable to children and punishment these days. When I was a child, being sent to your room was meant to be unbearable. All we wanted was to get outside to play. In the current culture, kids have more things they can do in their room and have no desire to go outside. They can connect to the world through technology. There is no punishment or disconnect from the world as there should be for their misbehavior.

Although this example makes light of some of the reasons inmates are in prison by comparing them to misbehaving children, the reasoning still holds true. Inmates shouldn't be made to feel at ease or given the same luxuries as those of us outside prison. To me, they are fortunate they are allowed to even write letters. Giving them access to the internet is akin to sending a child to his room where there is a computer and video games at hand.

In psychology, it is taught that you should start with a harsh punishment for misbehavior to decrease the chances of something similar happening again. It seems in today's culture, we are too afraid to risk violating someone's rights or offending someone than to do something that seems to be a appropriate action for the circumstance. In this case, treat inmates like inmates.

eld_school said...

I believe that prisoners have lost their rights to visit with friends and people outside of the prison anytime they want. There are certain times for visitation. Prisoners are in jail because they have committed a crime and are being punished. If they are allowed to talk on phones and have internet access then they are not being punished. Prison time is to be time to think on what one has done wrong. When one is being punished one usually has to give up certain rights or privileges. They are in prison and they should not be given the freedom of visiting with friends whenever they want. Then you hear that they are in prison and doing illegal actions on the internet. Their time in prison should be increased every time they use a cell phone.

lisahenry said...

Under the circumstances presented in question #1, I do believe that prisoners should be allowed to create a facebook page. I do feel that for most prisoners that prison should be about rehabilitation. Prisoners are frequently given incentives for good behavior and therefore, I feel that Internet access could possibly be very effective. However, I don't agree with it being used through contraband cell phones.

I do believe that it would be helpful if it were possible to monitor the inmates Internet activity - I'm sure that this shouldn't be too difficult to accomplish being that schools are able to monitor and block certain activity for school children. However, I do realize that this comes at an additional cost to the taxpayer.

Another factor, that I think has some bearing as to whether or not the prison will allow free socializing, is that fact that there is a lot of money involved in prisoners making phone calls to loved ones. I realize that the prisoners, at least most of them, have committed a crime that put them in prison. Unfortunately, it is usually the burden of their family to cover the costs of these phone calls.

dgarrard said...

Prisoners should not be allowed access to the internet, much less Facebook. They are in jail because they broke the law. By doing this they have forfeited any rights to communicate via the web. I do not believe these prisoners should be allowed the right to free speech. When you commit a crime against an individual, you are essentially commiting that crime against the laws of our society, and the Constitution. Third party individuals should be fined for helping inmates. You are helping the felon break the law by giving them contact that they do not deserve. The simple fact is that most of these people in jail would be likely to use social networking sites like Facebook to intimidate their victims or victims' families and the vicitms deserve nothing more than peace and peace of mind.

Elle B. said...

1.) Even if the use of the Internet is monitored, the prisoners should not be allowed to use the Internet. The joys of having access to a computer and the the world wide web is a privilege. If you are in jail, you lost all privileges. Especially with Facebook, who wants to be able to be in contact with a prisoner. It's not fair to the victims that they have affected.

2.) Facebook pages made by third parties is odd. It's not really them so why does it matter to them if they have a Facebook. I can just imagine the statuses saying "FREE SO AND SO," "THE MAN HAS TAKEN THEM DOWN." It's just unnecessary. So yes, I do believe that state laws should be in place because the third party could still harass people with the prisoners Facebook.

3.) When you commit a felony, you lose your right to vote. So why should they have the right to free speech? You disobey the laws of the land, you pay the consequences. If someone does not respect the laws, why should the law give them the same rights and privileges as law abiding citizens?

Sasha said...

I think, banning criminal from access of media devices and communication is a little strict. I don;t think they should have access to facebook but to another social network that would allow them to communicate with family. This source would need to have several restriction and should be monitored. I do agree that using social networks could be a way to continue to perform criminal acts; this is why, a network set aside for them should be monitored just like a visit to them would be.
i agree with cliddell that inmates should have the same access to the First Amendment as people on the outside, but it should have restrictions. I think that social networking should be set up like visits.
The problem with prisons now is that they have too much freedom. You have some prison, where prisoners can watch TV all day, carry cellphone, or do anything that you can do on the outside. What kind of punishment is this?I think that why people are not afraid to go to jail anymore. Prisons need to go back to have more restriction; however, they should be allowed to communicate with close family and that where the social prison network should come in with restrictions.

Shelly said...

After reading the article, I do not think that prisoners should be allowed to create Facebook pages or participate in social networks while in prison. The purpose for prison is to take away their freedoms. When an inmate chose to take part in the crime, he/she lost freedoms. Once the criminal has completed his sentence and has been paroled, then some of his feedoms can be returned to him/her. It is understood by all people that the price for most crimes is time in prison and freedoms revoked. So, if he/she commits the crime knowing this, then the First Amendment right is also a right that should be limited while in prison.
It is a fact that prisoners use letters and phone calls to send secret codes to get messages to the outside world. Some prisoners use it to send threatening messages to victims and their family members.
I understand the argument that Facebook members can accept or decline requests, but I also know that false profiles are made everyday. These false profiles include pictures, wall posts, etc.--all to make it look real. So, I understand that prisoners who have privileges like the Internet, have their use of the computer monitored. I don't think that it is possible to monitor all activity while on the Internet. So although it could be used as a tool to help prisoners and family members to keep in touch, I don't think that it is appropriate that they be allowed to use this tool in prison.

abuckhalter said...

This topic is quite interesting because I am facebooker and many of my underage family members are as well.

I am usually the person that believes if you commit the crime then you must do the time. That you should have special privileges. However, after reading this article about prisioners and facebook and giving the topic some thught, my opinion has changed. Some people are sent to prison for less violent crimes than others. I feel that your priveleges in jail should be based on the crime you committed and your behavior as an inmate. I feel its ok for prisons to have small computer labs where inmates are able to used the internet, but they should be monitored while doing it. People have committed very harsh crimes and computer crimes should not be allowed. If a third party makes a page for a prisoner with the use of information that was sent to them through email should be ok. I say that because if the prisoner is using the prison's computer and their usage is monitored like it should be then there still should be any crimes being committed and the information they ar providing the outside with is still accessible.

Free speech is always gauranteed. However, there are claused and stipulations that alter free speech. The law for contraband is a great idea because if the rule says no phone then you should have a phone. Texting and Facebooking have cause a large amount of violence in the world, so pre-criminal need to be monitored when they are interacting with the outside.

DSEELEY said...

After reading the article I believe that prison officials both state and federal should ban the use of the social network Facebook. The use of Email could be used on a limited basis to preapproved individuals. I believe the use of the internet and cell phones should remain banned. These people are in prison for crimes against others and should not be afforded the opportunity to intiminate anyone on the outside of the prison walls. Facebook has indeed come a long way since its inception and has come up with a policy to prohibit third party profiles and shut them down when they become aware of them. With the advancement in technology and the size cell phones can take today make it a difficult for state and federal officials to police prisoners and their use of these devices. Is this a First Amendment issue I don't think so, they still have a right to use pencil and paper to communicate with outside family members. I belive it is up to states as to what punishment should be rendered to these individuals who try to get around the law.

Brandon L. Atkison said...

I do not believe any prisoner should be given the right to create a facebook page period. It doesn’t matter how he/she creates the page. Restricted and monitored internet use is ok, but blocks should be in place to prevent interaction with social networks. I do believe laws should be in place to prevent the creation of third party facebook pages. It stated in the article that Facebook workers actively seek out pages that are set up like this and remove them. I think the law needs to go into further detail and be able to prosecute family members or individuals who do set up prisoner third party facebook profiles. Personally I do not think the law violates the prisoners’ free speech. In my opinion once a person has committed a crime and has been found guilty of that crime his rights and privileges granted by the Constitution do not pertain to that individual anymore. They were given the opportunity to abide by the laws of the land and once they broke them they should not be provided the opportunity to live by them until their sentence is up.

BGibson said...

I agree with the fact that prisoners should not be allowed to create facebook pages or be a part of any networking site. There are young children that are now creating pages on these networking sites, and though they may be participating in innocent fun they could actually become a victim of the inmates. The inmates have done wrong and should be being punished as opposed to being rewarded. Inmates of today are not well monitored, because they have cell phones and are allowed to participate with the different networks that are available. I personally feel that they should be able to use the internet or email as a source of communication with whomever they would like. Email requires an individual to know the address of the person that they are contacting to communicate, where as on facebook you can randomly search for people. In some cases these individuals have profiles that are not private.

I disagree with third parties being able to create facebook pages for inmates. I do not even understand what good it would do. The inmate will not be able to access it if their is a third party involved doing all the work. However, I do not think that individuals should be punished for creating them. Fake pages are consistently being created, therefore I think that Facebook should be more strict about who they let create a facebook page. They should also make sure that email addresses are legitimate and that there is only one account per email address.

Mack said...

As long as the inmate is not using a cell phone to gain access to social media sites I do not see a problem with them having a profile online they are already online through the department of corrections website and you can find any one using google. If any prisoner is reported for harassing a victim it will be very easy to prosecute them using the messages they sent to the victim. And if they really wanted to get someone they could easily just do it when they get out. We cant control what they will do in the future. Also allowing them to have access to Facebook will decrease the amount of cell phones being smuggled in.