July 26, 2011:
It took 7 weeks and a Freedom of Information Request that was seriously delayed but we have received a copy of the Suffolk Probation District’s form (PDF) that RSO’s are being prohibited from accessing social media sites. The form lists Facebook, My Space, Twitter and Craigslist but is not limited to just these 4 sites.
So as we thought, there is not clearly defined list of what Suffolk PO’s consider social media, leaving it open to interpretation which means RSO’s could easily be violated by their PO if they are on Prison Talk.com, or a Reunion type website/forum, or even a Career search type site.
We suggest if you are under Suffolk Probation supervision and you want to join ANY type of website you get written approval from your PO and keep that paper somewhere safe.
If you submit a request with your PO to join a site that is NOT one of the four they have specifically banned and they deny you access, please let us know what site it was that your were denied.
RSOL of VA
Virginia DOC Probation and Parole,
An RSOL of VA supporter and a registered offender who is currently under Virginia Probation supervision in Suffolk e-mailed us this in the last few days.
“My probation officer came to my home today and told me that their office was directed by the Director of Public Safety to prohibit all probationers from Social Networking Site, Facebook, MySpace and Craigslist to start. I was also told that I will need to sign a document at their office saying I will do this and I must report to them all the computers and electronics with WiiFii that I have access to and I will allow them access to my IP addresses if the need arises. I must also list all email addresses, internet providers. I must also submit to questioning about these things in my next polygraph. Deception on the polygraph would grant them access to my IP info and WiiFii electronics.
I do not have a FaceBook page or MySpace anyway…. the main reason for this is because I am on the registry and am so humiliated that I do not want to be on Facebook. I am so paranoid I would not allow my picture or name to appear in my Church Directory”.
We have a few questions about this new procedure.
- Is it all probationers or just registered sex offenders?
- If it’s sex offenders, is it Non-Violent and Violent offenders?
- Craigslist is not a social networking site. People list items to sell and buy on Craigslist, just like eBay.
- Is Suffolk Probation prohibiting buying and selling on eBay too?
- What about Amazon.com?
- What about signing up with a username to leave comments on the Washington Post or the Virginian Pilot web-sites, is that forbidden?
- What about Twitter, is that allowed?
- DailyStrength.com has a support group for offenders and family members as there are very few support groups out there for registered offenders. Will those who currently have free support now be denied this opportunity by Suffolk probation?
- What about Reunion type websites to connect with old friends and alumni, is that prohibited?
- What about open Forums like PrisonTalk.com, is that now going to be prohibited.
- How about CareerBuilder.com, if they are posting a resume or sending inquires. Or Linkedln? Are these sites allowed?
The possibilities of what VA Probation and Parole consider a “social networking site” are endless and if a detailed list isn’t available then this new policy could turn into a trap for offenders to fall into.
We would like to read the list of sites that are being banned by Suffolk Probation, please either e-mail or snail-mail a copy of the form that will be signed and the list of sites.
We’re guessing this new Suffolk policy is a knee-jerk reaction to one registered sex offender who was on Facebook and was “up to no good”. One instance of one person who continues to re-offend or bend the rules is not a valid reason to impose stricter punishments across the entire board.
Especially when the recidivism rates for registered offenders are 3.5-7% but yet for drug dealers and users, armed robbers and murderers their rates are in the mid to high 20’s.
Knee-jerk reactions are what have made the entire registry mess to begin with.
Finally if there are any other cities or counties in Virginia that have a similar policy, please advise which locales those are.
We look forward to receiving the answers to my questions and the documentation we’ve requested.
RSOL of Virginia