Black Inmates Who Have Never Seen The Internet Explain It

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It is illegal in the United States for federal prisoners to go on the internet. Most prisoners who have been serving long sentences in prison have never been online. Some inmates have managed to go online through illegally smuggled cell phones. But most of them haven’t tried out smartphones, apps, or instant messaging. Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are vague concepts. The idea that apps can know where you are or remember your information sounds like sci-fi. They hear about these things from friends, television, and magazines, but it’s hard to conceive what they are and how they have transformed the world.


Proponents say it’s a matter of security; opponents say it is a major hurdle for successful reintegration once they are released. Some federal prisoners have been granted limited access to monitored text-only email with people on an approved contact list. But most state prisoners don’t even have that.

What is it like to be a grown adult in 2013 and have no idea what the internet is? I asked some prisoners at California’s San Quentin State Prison how they imagine it… Read More

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