Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Public safety

A Miranda warning for social media

Those temporarily calling the Pasco County jail home just got a perk when it comes to conversing with the outside world.

Call it a kind of Facebook for felons — accused ones, anyway.

Inmates can now email people who have agreed to communicate with them for 50 cents a missive, a buck to get a photo. This is a vast improvement over the snail-mail postcards some jails limit their inmates to receiving to avoid having to screen for contraband in actual letters. (Hey, remember actual letters?)

Before we get to grousing about this outrageous abuse of our taxpayer pennies, turns out the smartjailmail.com service works like a vending machine and doesn't cost us anything. In fact, the Sheriff's Office's cut of 25 percent is expected to net them something like $50,000 after a year.

Now: a Miranda warning for inmates itching to get their fingertips on those keys:

The government is already on your "friends" list, like it or not.

They're already there when it comes to phone calls. A few years ago, a Tampa jury listened to a recorded jailhouse phone conversation in which a murder suspect told a family member he had finally broken "every single one" of the Ten Commandments.

And remember George Zimmerman of stand-your-ground infamy getting his bail revoked after he was accused of fudging about his finances before trial — in recorded jail conversation with his wife?

This type of evidence gets gathered despite the fact that jails tend to post big signs that say things like ALL CALLS SUBJECT TO MONITORING AND RECORDING. Turns out they mean it.

Now it's social media — that communications "advancement" that makes it all too easy to spontaneously message your ex or display embarrassing details of your weekend for your boss to see.

In Hillsborough County, Circuit Judge Dan Perry, who hears probation violations, has seen interesting items on probationers' Facebook pages. Recently he inquired about a picture posted of a plant in a probationer's home, helpfully dated, which the probationer admitted was marijuana. (A plant he found "beautiful," he explained.)

Another, also helpfully dated, showed a man who was supposed to abstain from alcohol while on probation brandishing a beer.

Yet another fellow Instagrammed a photo of himself outside Hillsborough Judge Greg Holder's courtroom after he was sentenced. "(Insert really bad name to call a judge here) put me on paper," it said, paper being slang for probation. Probably it did not help that the next picture posted (and seen by a judge) was of said probationer smoking a short, fat, hand-rolled cigarette.

It's like we can't help ourselves. Look at me, being bad!

Though you can't exactly accuse the authorities of being on the sneak here. With the new Pasco email system, users sign off on an agreement that says in part the correctional facility may review the content of messages and pictures.

"We monitor social media," says sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. "It's just one of our tools,"

They even have a software program to search out keywords, presumably "marijuana," "murder" and such.

So, how long before someone emails an admission of guilt or sends out pictures of ill-gotten gains anyway? I give it a month.

Comments
Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida reached a 47-year low in 2017, according to state figures released Tuesday and touted as a "major announcement" by a Republican governor determined to win a U.S. Senate seat. The state’s total crime rate dropped by 6 percent from 201...
Updated: 10 minutes ago

FDLE: Pasco couple scammed elderly employer out of $480,000

TAMPA — A Pasco County couple face dozens of charges after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they stole more than $480,000 from their elderly employer.Chet Alan Ragsdale, 45, was arrested Monday on 28 counts of grand theft, 25 counts of ...
Published: 05/21/18
4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

4 sinkholes open in The Villages retirement community

THE VILLAGES — Four sinkholes have opened up in a fast-growing retirement community in Florida, including one in front of a home that was abandoned months ago because of an earlier sinkhole. A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office says t...
Published: 05/21/18
Florida man caught walking around naked with a bottle of cooking oil, deputies say

Florida man caught walking around naked with a bottle of cooking oil, deputies say

A Gulf Breeze man walked around a neighborhood naked while carrying a bottle of cooking oil, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s deputies said.The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a homeowner at 8:30 p.m. on May 17 saying home security...
Published: 05/21/18
A man punched a pregnant, deaf woman and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man punched a pregnant, deaf woman and her service dog on a plane ride to Florida, police say

A man is accused of attacking a deaf couple and their service dog while they were travelling on a plane headed toward Orlando.The incident happened as Matthew Silvay, 30, and Hazel Ramirez, 21, were on Frontier Flight 1752 as it left Colorado Springs...
Published: 05/21/18
Pasco sheriff: Man, 23, sexually battered 10-year-old girl

Pasco sheriff: Man, 23, sexually battered 10-year-old girl

PORT RICHEY — A 23-year-old man was arrested Friday on a charge of sexual battery under the age of 12, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Elias Barreiro sexually battered a 10-year-old girl last year, according to the arrest report. He wa...
Published: 05/21/18
Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

PAHOA, Hawaii — White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago. Auth...
Published: 05/21/18
Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have been restored at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said. About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. 
Published: 05/20/18
Updated: 05/21/18
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Published: 05/20/18
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18