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Facebook'ing behind bars?

Image courtesy of Facebook Image courtesy of Facebook

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Facebook has become one of the most popular social network sites on the Internet, connecting hundreds of millions of people all over the world.  On Guam thousands of island residents make visiting Facebook a daily activity.

But some may be surprised to know that even those in the Maximum Security Unit at the Department of Corrections have Facebook pages, too.  

Two inmates are on lockdown at the Mangilao Adult Corrections Facility after they were caught with electronic devices that helped them obtain access to the 'Net while behind bars.  "A search and a lockdown was conducted," confirmed agency director J.B. Palacios.  "Out of that resulted in the confiscation of that wireless modem and three cellular phones."

Three weeks ago the department received intelligence about two inmates using the internet while in their cells at Post 6 - the Maximum Security Unit.  DepCor's director confirms that inmate, Bruno Simmons, even created a Facebook page taking multiple pictures of himself behind bars.  Apparently, Simmons and at least one other inmate - whose name was not released - used the wireless modem with the cell phones to gain access to the World Wide Web.

So how could maximum security inmates gain online access while locked up behind bars? And what other contact did they have with the general public?  Said Palacios, "Simmons was at 6 and then he was moved to administrative segregation and when he was moved back to 6, that's when apparently he was seeking the assistance of others to move the items for him."

Simmons' name may sound familiar - in 2003 he was incarcerated for armed robbery and last year he was one of three inmates implicated in a foiled escape plan.  During that investigation authorities found two cell phones, several shanks and other contraband in the very same Maximum Security Unit.  

Palacios adds that numerous DepCor officers are being investigated, saying, "We're looking at the possibility of at least nine officers that might directly be involved in the actual bringing of the device and giving it to the inmate or the lapses in security, such as not following security policies and protocols that are already in place to ensure those things don't come in."

It's instances like this that have Public Safety Oversight Chair Senator Adolpho Palacios questioning how things are being handled at the department.  He told KUAM News, "Well, it's pretty disturbing. First of all it appears to me then there are Internet service right into the quarters of those inmates; I don't know, that's just disturbing. If they're allowed to do that, then it' like giving inmates unlimited access to a telephone, which I know there are restrictions [sic]."

The DepCor director says the investigation will determine how inmates are getting away with action like these, but he applauds the inmates who brought this activity to management's attention.  "So it's a good sign when you have that kind of support from your population.  Typically the prison is known as a place of code of silence but the assuring thing to all of this is the population itself is policing itself," he noted.

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