Facebook Felons : A WAFF 48 News Special Report - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Facebook Felons : A WAFF 48 News Special Report


One Huntsville woman found the men who murdered her father chatting on Facebook right from their prison cells. She went to Alabama lawmakers to help put a stop to it. 

Candy Cheatham went to the candlelight vigil held for homicide victims every year. She goes to honor her father, Cole Cannon who was killed.

Back in 2003, two teens, Colby Smith and Evan Miller, broke into Cannon's trailer, beat him with a bat, robbed him and then set the place on fire.

Since both were sentenced to life in prison without parole, Cheatham has tried to put them out of her mind until she came across them again on Facebook.

They did it by accessing the pages through cell phones smuggled into prison.

"I looked up a few others that I knew had murdered people and they had a site as well," said Cheatham.

Cheatham reached out to State Representative Phil Williams, who drafted House Bill 258 that would make it a crime for inmates to use social networking sites.

"Number one: That's a privilege to have and they shouldn't have that to begin with. It's a security issue because it could cause potential harm to those on the outside and it's devastating to see those that murdered my father having chats and talking with those in the outside world," added Cheatham.

Brian Corbett with the Alabama Department of Corrections said banning an inmate from chatting on Facebook is only half of the problem.

He believes it's cell phones. Last year alone, Alabama prisons confiscated around 5,000 cell phones from inmates.

Senate Bill 101 strictly focuses on cell phones, making it a class "C" felony for an inmate to be in possession of a phone, a corrections officer intending to hand one over or a visitor to smuggle one in.

"The cell phone bill would put some real teeth into the law. When you eliminate the cell phone from the prison setting, then you can eliminate the social networking as well," added Corbett.

For people like Candy Cheatham, lawmakers need to eliminate the source and the problem.
"We need to be protected, our community needs to be protected," she said. "There are a lot of things they can do with their sites, they can contact their victim, they can order hits, and they can continue criminal enterprise. It's very important that something is put in place."

Legislators passed Senate Bill 101 last Thursday, which will lengthen a jail sentence and fine a prisoner. House Bill 258 also passed which could also fine an inmate and factor into parole hearings.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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