Texas prisoners – not allowed to use social media

Voices argue if the decision violates freedom of speech

New rule implemented this month by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s bars Texas inmates from using social media platforms, as well as accounts using their name by friends or relatives.

According to a Fusion report, the official prohibition came as a prevention for criminal activities, such as “maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating, or engaging others.”

Jason Clark, from The Criminal Justice Department, explains: “Offenders have used social media accounts to sell items over the internet based on the notoriety of their crime, harass victims or victim’s families, and continue their criminal activity. The agency will take all of the necessary steps to prevent that from happening.”

On the other hand, critics claim that the latest measure violates the First Amendment, as it limits their rights to free speech, transparency, as well as a minimal connection with the outer world.

Electronic Frontier Foundation researcher Dave Maas argues the censorship regime imposed by the authorities on main social media platforms: “Supporters of inmates often use social media to raise attention about prison conditions and the appeal campaigns of individual prisoners. This policy would not only prohibit the prisoners’ exercise of their First Amendment rights, but also prevent the public from exercising their First Amendment rights to gather information about the criminal justice system from those most affected by it.”

Texas is not the only state applying these regulations. In south Carolina prisons, violation of “social media rule” is punished with solitary confinement. Similarly, inmates in Texas will face level three disciplinary punishment if breaking these rules, which can result in 45 days of cell confinement and extra prison duties.