South Carolina Enact New Restrictions On Inmate Communications
People who are convicted of domestic violence, sex crimes and other crimes of violence in South Carolina face severe restrictions on their liberty, possibly for the rest of their lives. No single consequence of a criminal conviction is more serious than incarceration, and officials take serious steps to insulate the public and crime victims from individuals who are placed behind bars.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley recently signed a new law that makes it unlawful for inmates to utilize Internet-based social networks to harass, intimidate or otherwise contact crime victims. The new crime is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 fine or 30 days' imprisonment.
The provisions of this statute apply only to inmates incarcerated in a State Department of Corrections facility, but not to people convicted of drug crimes, fraud or other federal crimes and held in federal prisons. The lead house sponsor of the legislation hailed its passage as "a major victory for victims' rights," citing recent media reports of inmates who were able to circumvent prison rules and make unauthorized communications.
The law also applies to those who are accused of helping state prisoners post messages via Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. State officials report that as many as 2,000 phones and other digital devices that had been smuggled into prisons were seized from South Carolina inmates last year, but posting messages on someone's behalf is also subject to criminal sanctions.
In any criminal prosecution, competing versions of events and misunderstood intent can play a significant role in a determination of guilt. A criminal defense attorney can provide legal insights and aggressive representation to help an accused person understand and assert his or her rights.