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Inmates in most prisons have very little contact with the outside world.  They are barred from owning cell phones, and if they have access to computers, it’s heavily restricted and behind very strict firewalls.  But cell phones do make their way over prison walls from time to time, and recently a lifer in South Carolina managed to update his Facebook status with one such phone.

Enter the state legislature, which is considering a bill that would make membership on any social networking site a crime for anyone currently incarcerated.  The proposed penalty would be an extra 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.  Not much of a deterrent for someone serving life without parole.

Supporters of the law say that inmates are using illicit cell phones to pass coded messages to cohorts on the outside and that this law is needed to put a lid on that practice.  Setting aside the absurdity of an extra month as a deterrent, this assumes that cell phones are needed to pass coded messages.


Of course, prisons should, as they already do, discipline inmates that break the rules through solitary  confinement or other disciplinary actions.  But this law is nothing more than a feel good panacea that makes the legislature appear tough on crime without actually accomplishing anything.


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