Impact Georgia Impact Georgia Special Edition - Page 6

(Continued from Page 4) problem of inmate cell phone use. GDC has dedicated investigators who are constantly on social media sites searching for inmate profiles, but with 55,000 inmates in facilities throughout the state, the task of finding their online aliases is daunting. “It’s very difficult for us as an agency to find them, but the public helps us tremendously when they see these individuals on Facebook and notify us,” said Myrick. “We immediately investigate and try to find out who the inmate is and what facility they are located in so we can confiscate the device.” But finding an inmate profile is only half the battle. Some social media sites refuse to remove inmate accounts, citing free speech laws. Facebook for example, will only remove an inmate page if that inmate has been convicted of a violent, forcible felony such as rape or murder. Their community guidelines don’t prohibit activ- ity from inmates, even though the page was set up using a device in violation of Georgia law. Additionally, the penalties that can be imposed on the inmates themselves are often administrative in nature, unless there was serious criminal activity linked to their cell phone use. To criminally charge every cell phone infraction is unfeasible, as it would overload the already overburdened court system. Regardless of the challenges, the staff at GDC is committed to providing safe and secure facilities and opportunities for positive change to all inmates. Though there is no “silver bullet” solution to the issue of cell phones in prison at this point in time, by working together with the public, we can combat the cell phone problem and accomplish the mission of preparing offenders to be productive, law-abiding citizens when they return to their communities. t or nd p a re to one e e h r he ell p usag k c a ic Cl ate edi inm cia m so 6