I am in Birmingham
because injustice is here. (...)
Just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I am too compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Martin Luther King,
Letter from Birmingham City Jail
Worryingly, in Alabama, it is prohibited for prisoners to allow users to create webpages or profiles about themselves that are available to the general public or to any other users.
Similar rules exist in New Mexico, Indiana, South Carolina and now Texas. Specifically in Texas, a new rule published in the new (April 1st, 2016)Offender Orientation Handbook of the TDCJ provides that: "Offenders are prohibited from maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating or engaging others, through a third party or otherwise" (rule 4, p24)
Whilst it is understandable that the authorities wish to prevent criminal activities or victims harassment, it should be equally understandable that prisoners are allowed to exercise their freedom of speech but also that their loved ones remain free to express themselves without fearing any retaliation for the prisoner in jail. Further, it seems important that the organisations supporting these prisoners can also feel free to advocate on their behalf as they see fit, for example in the context of innocence claims.
However, because of the broad terms of the rules from the Departments of Corrections, there is no clarity as to what the restrictions actually are and which activity may lead to retaliation against the prisoners.
These rules need to be pulled out until a full clarity can be officially made.