The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has shut down a dozen electronic kiosks used by Parish Prison inmates to file complaints because the devices gave the inmates access to social networking sites.
The kiosks were set up several years ago so inmates could electronically file grievance forms. But the system inadvertently gave the inmates access to Internet sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
The sheriff’s office immediately shut down the machines after the loophole was discovered, spokesman Phillip Stelly said. Until the electronic access can be blocked, inmates will revert to pen-and-paper to submit their complaints, Stelly said.
The Internet access, which the sheriff’s office attributed to a “software glitch,” comes as the prison is under intense scrutiny of a federal consent decree and is struggling to curb persistent contraband problems.
Stelly, however, said there have been no reported instances of security threats or other criminal behavior due to the Internet access.
Stelly did not indicate what other electronic access was exploited by the inmates other than Facebook and YouTube.
There are about 12 kiosks in the prison complex, one for each floor in five separate lockups, Stelly said.
The sheriff’s office said it is working with the technology vendor that installed the devices to fix the problem.