Labor & Employment

Prison Guard Reinstated After Investigation Shows Other Guards Were Friends with Inmate on Facebook

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After being fired in May for violating Texas prison policy by friending an inmate on Facebook, a Huntsville corrections officer has been reinstated.

The reinstatement comes after an investigation showed several others at the prison, including the prison’s chief financial officer, were associated on Facebook with the same convicted murderer.

Sgt. Heath Lara appealed his termination, insisting that he didn’t even realize the person was a convict at the sprawling Huntsville prison complex that holds 1,700 inmates, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He’d only connected with Gary Wayne Sanders because he was a high-school acquaintance.

The newspaper reports that while fraternization among convicts and guards is still barred, the rule doesn’t apply to Facebook, at least if that’s the only connection.

The American-Statesman says Texas isn’t alone in dealing with these issues involving social media. Odds are, guards or police are connected on social media to someone who’s been in jail, whether they know it or not.

“There’s almost no way a correctional officer—or anyone else for that matter—can tell if any one of their Facebook friends are convicts, parolees or ex-convicts,” Lance Lowry, president of a union representing prison guards, is quoted saying. “With more than a million people in Texas now incarcerated, on parole or probation, there’s a pretty good chance some of those Facebook friends are or have been in the criminal justice system at one time.”

Hat tip: The Crime Report.

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