Social media helps probation officers monitor juvenile offenders
By JUDGE TOM JACOBS
The headline to this article should come as no surprise to anyone. We’ve all read and heard about colleges, universities and employers checking your Facebook posts and YouTube videos. Teenagers on probation are also followed by the probation officers whether they’ve turned over their passwords or not. What you post on a public site is out there for anyone to see.
Judge Lisa Gonzales in Corpus Christi, Texas, orders some adult probationers to turn over their usernames and passwords to their probation officers. “This gives them one more tool to basically look up people on their accounts and see if they’re posting anything that would be inappropriate or would be a violation of their probation,” Gonzales explained. Access to your Twitter, Facebook or MySpace account allows the PO to monitor your activities 24/7 from anywhere.
Other courts across the country are exploring similar policies. Many juvenile probation officers follow their kids on Facebook to see that they’re following the terms of probation. The use of social media has grown tremendously by government officials and agencies. Statistics show that almost every governor has a personalized Twitter presence as well as 10% of state legislators. Every governor has a Facebook presence and legislatures in Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Michigan and Texas lead the nation in Facebooking.
Judge Tom Jacobs blogs at http://www.askthejudge.info.
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