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Author Topic: Facebook friends no longer grounds for firing, prison officials say  (Read 3791 times)
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MuffyBee
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« on: September 28, 2012, 08:32:11 AM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/facebook-friends-no-longer-grounds-for-firing-pris/nSNm6/
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Texas prisons
Facebook friends no longer grounds for firing, prison officials say

September 26, 2012

Facebook friend. Officials said he had violated policy and compromised security — even though he insisted he didn’t know the man was a prisoner, only a high-school acquaintance.

Rules are rules, officials said, and Texas bans convicts and guards, parolees and parole officers, from fraternizing, including as Facebook friends.

About two weeks ago, officials reinstated the sergeant after an internal investigation determined that a number of other prison employees had the same online friend, including the prison system’s chief financial officer.

Now, officials say they no longer consider Facebook friendships, by themselves, a violation of the fraternization ban.

The case illustrates an issue that has been popping up with increasing frequency across the country, as prison systems find themselves entangled in the social networking craze.

“There’s almost no way a correctional officer — or anyone else for that matter — can tell if any one of their Facebook friends are convicts, parolees or ex-convicts,” said Lance Lowry, president of a Huntsville local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that represents prison guards. “With more than a million people in Texas now incarcerated, on parole or probation, there’s a pretty good chance some of those Facebook friends are or have been in the criminal justice system at one time.”
 ::snipping2::
According to complaints by several employees in recent months: at least three other corrections workers have been terminated or disciplined in the past year for having Facebook friends who are convicts or ex-convicts; several wardens are reported to have initiated investigations into guards’ Facebook accounts; and several employees say they have been ordered to “unfriend” anyone they don’t personally know.

Some guards consider Facebook a bad idea in their line of work.

“I don’t know why anyone in the prison business would want to be on Facebook, with their family photos and everything out there for anyone to see,” said retired Huntsville prison guard John Wheeler, echoing sentiments of current officers who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. “You’re just asking for trouble, on the job and off.”

Despite the policy change, critics say the current policy is still ripe for abuse.

“The only way the agency does anything now is if someone rats someone else off,” said Brian Olsen, executive director of a correctional employees union that represents more than 6,000 prison workers.

Even so, prison officials say the change should resolve a big issue. “To violate the policy has to be more than just ‘friend’ status on Facebook,” Clark said.
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2012, 09:51:52 AM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/facebook-friends-no-longer-grounds-for-firing-pris/nSNm6/
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Texas prisons
Facebook friends no longer grounds for firing, prison officials say

September 26, 2012

Facebook friend. Officials said he had violated policy and compromised security — even though he insisted he didn’t know the man was a prisoner, only a high-school acquaintance.

Rules are rules, officials said, and Texas bans convicts and guards, parolees and parole officers, from fraternizing, including as Facebook friends.

About two weeks ago, officials reinstated the sergeant after an internal investigation determined that a number of other prison employees had the same online friend, including the prison system’s chief financial officer.

Now, officials say they no longer consider Facebook friendships, by themselves, a violation of the fraternization ban.

The case illustrates an issue that has been popping up with increasing frequency across the country, as prison systems find themselves entangled in the social networking craze.

“There’s almost no way a correctional officer — or anyone else for that matter — can tell if any one of their Facebook friends are convicts, parolees or ex-convicts,” said Lance Lowry, president of a Huntsville local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that represents prison guards. “With more than a million people in Texas now incarcerated, on parole or probation, there’s a pretty good chance some of those Facebook friends are or have been in the criminal justice system at one time.”
 ::snipping2::
According to complaints by several employees in recent months: at least three other corrections workers have been terminated or disciplined in the past year for having Facebook friends who are convicts or ex-convicts; several wardens are reported to have initiated investigations into guards’ Facebook accounts; and several employees say they have been ordered to “unfriend” anyone they don’t personally know.

Some guards consider Facebook a bad idea in their line of work.

“I don’t know why anyone in the prison business would want to be on Facebook, with their family photos and everything out there for anyone to see,” said retired Huntsville prison guard John Wheeler, echoing sentiments of current officers who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. “You’re just asking for trouble, on the job and off.”

Despite the policy change, critics say the current policy is still ripe for abuse.

“The only way the agency does anything now is if someone rats someone else off,” said Brian Olsen, executive director of a correctional employees union that represents more than 6,000 prison workers.

Even so, prison officials say the change should resolve a big issue. “To violate the policy has to be more than just ‘friend’ status on Facebook,” Clark said.

Thank-you, Muffy, for keeping us informed.
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