AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Inmates in Texas corrections facilities will no longer be allowed to maintain social media accounts.
A new rule was added to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's offender handbook on Monday. And what it means for some inmates and their families...no communication from certain outlets.
As it stands, inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system do not have access to the internet, meaning they are unable to create or maintain any social media account.
But before Monday, there were no rules that said friends, family and other third parties could not manage these accounts for them.
That all changed on Monday with a new state-wide rule. If someone refuses to delete an inmate's account, TDCJ will directly reach out to the social media company.
"Many of these companies specifically prohibit having a third-party from operating an account as someone else. And many of these companies now also require that the correctional agency have a specific rule in place that prohibits offenders from maintaining or starting those accounts," says TDCJ rep Jason Clark.
But critics like Lawyer Ryan Brown argue this is a violation of first amendment rights.
"It's not really just about the inmate's first amendment rights," says Brown. "They're trying to restrict the first amendment rights of people that are outside of TDCJ, that are friends and family of these people that are serving time. And punishing inmates for people outside of the prison exercising their constitutional rights is just insane to me, I can't wrap my brain around that logic."
Clark argues, however this is being done in an effort to protect all parties.
"Offenders have used social media accounts run by a third-party to try to sell items over the internet based on their notoriety of their crime. They've used it to harass victims or victims families or try to continue their criminal activity. So it's really incumbent on us to take all of the steps necessary to prevent that from happening."
Other states have implemented similar policies and some have even been punishing with solitary confinement for using these sites that most of us use everyday.