It’s not unusual for prison inmates to communicate with the outside world through snail mail and the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty encourages people on the outside world to communicate with people on death row via email.

Now, however, the authorities are discovering that many California inmates also have Facebook pages, which they can access through contraband cell phones. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is asking Facebook to remove these accounts.

The problem, they say, is that prisoners are accessing these Facebook and other sites via cell phones, which are contraband within the state prison system. Nevertheless, they are easily acquired for about $1,000 a phone. In the first six months of 2011, 7,284 mobile phones were found, and it is assumed that many, many more were not found.

As for using Facebook, it could be an innocuous way for prisoners to pass time by reporting on their lives. On the other hand, it could have more nefarious purposes. “Access to social media allows inmates to circumvent our monitoring process and continue to engage in criminal activity,” says CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. In one instance, a child molester was able to locate his victim through her Facebook and MySpace page.

At present, there is no law specifically prohibiting prison inmates from using social networking sites. There are however laws in some states preventing sexual predators from using Facebook, since it can be used to stalk and harass victims. The CDCR’s request could be the beginning of a new law denying inmates Facebook too.

Read More at NBC Bay Area