under the rug

kid prisoner silhouette.

Over the last few days, I’ve received a couple emails from a lady in Germany who supports a wide range of prisoners—death row inmates, wrongfully convicted, parricides, you name it. Her name is Silke Rohschürmann, and she advocates for so many incarcerated people in so many circumstances, that I have questioned how discriminating she can be. Yet she seems tireless in her enthusiasm and to the people behind bars whom she serves, she must seem like a great hope that they are not forgotten in a friendless world.

I have the impression that her major method of rendering support is to establish social media sites advocating for her wards’ causes. I don’t know how effective her efforts are, but efforts like them are effective enough to have come to the attention of prison departments in a number of states including New Mexico, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Each has instituted policies that are being used to curtail sites that try to drum up support (including funding) for specific convicts. Some policies even call for the punishment of inmates who are the subjects of such sites.

This is from an April 7, 2016 Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) notice that was given to Death Row prisoners in the Polunsky Unit on a single piece of paper: “OFFENDERS ARE PROHIBITED FROM MAINTAINING ACTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS FOR THE PURPOSES OF SOLICITING, UPDATING, OR ENGAGING OTHERS, THROUGH A THIRD PARTY OR OTHERWISE.”

Ms. Rohschürmann contacted the warden of the Polunsky Unit and was told several things:

  1. All accounts had to be down by April 15;
  2. Some sort of disciplinary action would be taken against the guys;
  3. Pen Pal sites were to be taken down; and
  4. Yes, people in the free world could have action taken against them.

When Ms. Rohschürmann pressed the warden for specifics, he could not answer them and advised her to contact the TDCJ Ombudsman’s Office and TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark. When Clark was contacted by Ms. Rohschürmann, he asked her to put her questions to him in an email, which she did, but there is no word yet whether her questions were answered. And the deadline, I remind you, is April 15th.

I haven’t researched this, nor do I know if these new rules are even legal. But I do see this as a blatant attempt at official suppression of anything being known or said in the free world about the fates of inmates under the control of the state.

I will be following this development with great interest. The state must not be granted carte blanche with its prisoners. The state has already proved that it is not to be trusted with those under its control, and it is certainly not to be trusted with the freedom of information in the free world.

The states must not be allowed to sweep over two million prisoners under the rug.



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5 Responses to “under the rug”

  1. 1 Daryl Watton
    April 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I moderate a Facebook group IN SUPPORT OF David Childress. He doesn’t “own” it, control it or use it, directly or indirectly, to communicate with anyone. So, this new policy worries me.
    It seems like the United States is slowly turning into a tin-pot, banana republic and is in the process of DISAPPEARING its convicts.

  2. 2 john
    April 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    The free speech amendment should apply to those who are incarcerated.

  3. 3 Michael T
    April 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    This seems like it wouldn’t stand up to constitutional scrutiny. I wonder if the ACLU would be willing to take this on?

  4. 4 Anonymous
    April 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

    She has obviously terrified the prison system. Maybe the world knows they are departments of punishment and execution, rather than departments of corrections. The wardens don’t want their job titles changed to Director of DOPE. I echo Michael – the ACLU should take this on

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