Reprinted by OUPD with permission from
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution.
Looking for a relationship with a "truly honest and good man"? Or you're missing inner peace, perhaps?
Never fear, your online dream date is only a mouse click away. And, since these cybermates are serving life in prison, they are guaranteed to be attentive. The inmates boast of what they have to offer including items for sale such as a jailhouse newsletter on Internet pages.
Although the inmates do not necessarily have direct access to the Internet, they get their messages into cyberspace through people on the outside who retrieve their e-mail and forward the messages to them once a week.
There are lonely inmates eager to discuss religion, engage a romantic pen pal or find someone who will help them right the supposed wrong that put them in prison.
There is little that prison officials can do to stop it, said Georgia Department of Corrections spokesman Mike Light.
"They (inmates) don't have access to computers," Light said. "Others using computers, the department has no control over that. Even if we wanted to prevent it, there's no way we can do it. I've seen them do it in newspapers and personals. So this could create a whole new industry for inmates."
One Georgia inmate, Carzell Moore, once had an Internet page that told about his life on Death Row. Moore eventually got off of death row and his sponsors removed the page.
Kati Corsaut, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections, said prison officials think it's important for inmates to maintain contacts outside of prison via mail, but "people should be cautious and aware of what they're getting into. When people start writing to someone they've never met, they need to be aware that people are in prison for committing violent crimes."
Inmates looking for love, help or money on the Internet usually make only a passing reference or none at all to their crimes.
"Aren't you fed up with meeting all the wrong men?" wrote Ronald E. Mays, an inmate at Tehachapi, Calif. "In search of a truly honest and good man who is also in search of a partner? Well, have you ever thought of corresponding and having a relationship with a prisoner?"
Mays is serving life without parole for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, sodomy with force and kidnapping.
Many inmates with an Internet page are simply looking for someone to write them, so they advertise personal qualities that they think will draw responses.
"Lonely inmate with no family seeks friendship," wrote Edward L. Jones, No. 36980 at Ely State Prison in Nevada, where he's on death row. Frankie Cruz, inmate No. 87446 in Canyon City, Colo., wants to tell the truth about prison life for a fee.
"In here on the inside it's a whole new ball game, stuff goes on in here you would not believe, stuff you's (sic) never hear about out there, that I know you are curious about, and would like to know about out therein respectful society," Cruz wrote. "If you would like to be schooled on one of the following issues or all three issues. "Jailhouse Politics," "Drugs in Prison" or "Gang Rapes," I'll run it down to you from experience, in details."
The cost: $40 for a rundown on one issue, or three issues for $100.
"We frown on them soliciting money," said Liz McDonough, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections. "Extorting money under false pretenses is illegal. Sometimes they lie. That's why we call them cons, because that's what they do." Illustration: Lonely inmates are often eager to discuss religion or to engage a romantic pen pal.
Reprinted with permission from The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. Further reproduction, retransmission or distribution of these materials without the prior written consent of The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, and any copyright holder identified in the material's copyright notice, is prohibited.
Reference: Rhonda Cook STAFF WRITER, Prisoners of love are waiting for you: Inmates online seek cybermates., 05-11-1997, pp G04.
This article: Copyright 1997, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.
Graphics accompanying the article by OUPD.
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