Archive for Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Inmate Web sites disgust victims

July 24, 2001

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— Some crime victims say they are appalled that prison inmates have access to Web sites that allow them to place personal ads promoting themselves as lonely hearts.

For example, convicted killer Sake Donesay sent an ad to Prisonpenpals.org that says he's looking for companionship and to, in his words, "maybe collide with someone whom would not mind sharing intellect and intimate conversation."

The site and others like it including Jailbabes.com, Ladiesofthepen.com and Meet-an-inmate.com disgust the father of Donesay's victim.

"Does it say anywhere on there that he is a cop killer?" said Rick Easter. Donesay, then 14, shot and killed Easter's son Kevin, a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy, in 1996. "He's a hardened criminal. That's the kind of thing he could easily use to take advantage of someone."

Someone who sees the smiling face of the person who harmed them or a family member is victimized again, said Corinne Radke, a victims advocate with Parents of Murdered Children in Wichita.

But operators defend the sites, saying they help prisoners maintain a connection to the community.

"In most cases, the prisoners are just looking for a good friend," said Tracie Lamourie, director of the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which operates a Web site that allows prisoners to meet pen pals and display their writings. "Strong relationships have been built, and that's important."

Prison officials say there is not much that can be done about the Web sites.

Kansas Corrections spokesman Bill Miskell said some people concerned about the sites are under the misconception that the prisoners have access to the Internet.

"They do not," Miskell said. "But we can't stop them from sending mail to friends or family and having them contact the Internet company. We can't stop them from receiving mail they get in response, either."

Miskell advises caution. He said although there are inmates looking only for a connection with the community, others are looking to manipulate someone.

"People need to be careful," he said. "That's the best defense."

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