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California Inmates Harassing Victims Via Facebook

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Inmates at Chino State Prison exercise in the yard December 10, 2010 in Chino, California.  (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Inmates at Chino State Prison exercise in the yard December 10, 2010 in Chino, California. (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say inmates are using social networks and the growing numbers of smartphones smuggled into prisons and jails to harass their victims or accusers and intimidate witnesses.

California corrections officials who monitor social networking sites say they have found many instances in which inmates taunted victims or made unwanted sexual advances.

It’s often difficult for authorities to determine for sure who’s sending the threatening material — and the few people caught rarely face serious consequences.

California approved a law bringing up to six months in jail for corrections employees or visitors who smuggle phones into state prisons, while inmates caught with the phones can now lose up to 180 days of early-release credit.

Last June, Oregon approved a law prohibiting inmates from contacting their domestic violence victims from behind bars.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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