Prison reform activists are concerned that a new state social media policy could be used to infringe on the free speech rights of both incarcerated people and and those who support them by sharing their stories, thoughts and experiences online.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) “Offender Orientation Manual,” updated in early April, “Offenders are prohibited from maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating, or engaging others, through a third party or otherwise.”
Under the updated manual, prisoners can be penalized for infractions in a number of ways, including by receiving extra work duties or being confined to their cells.
Lily Hughes, the national director of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, said that she’s concerned the policy could not only infringe on prisoners’ rights, but also prevent her group from creating online advocacy pages for their clients.
“The rule is written as to be so broad as to include anything,” said Hughes, who fears that prisoners may be punished for online activity that her group has undertaken on their behalf.
Used with permission from The Texas Observer.