Facebooking from prison yields inmate extra 5 years

Published 11:28 am Friday, April 6, 2012

Posts on Facebook from inside prison will cost an Issaquena County inmate an additional half decade in prison following a conviction in the first cell phone case to go to trial in the Ninth Circuit Court District.

Jimmy Pruitt, 28, was sentenced Thursday by Judge M. James Chaney to five years in prison for possession of a phone in a correctional facility. Pruitt was serving an eight-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction in Adams County. The sentences will run consecutively, said Assistant District Attorney Tom Setser.

Pruitt originally was put on probation in 2010 following a prison term for the shooting death of Christopher Bourdin, 21, of Natchez.

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He was sentenced in 2004 to 15 years with seven years suspended, according to court records.

In March 2010, Pruitt was found guilty of violating his probation and imprisoned in Issaquena County. He remained in Issaquena County Correctional Facility today, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections records.

A Nokia phone was found in Pruitt’s pants on April 14, 2011, following a tip to prison officials that the man had been posting on the social networking site, Setser said.

Records show data transfers and calls to numerous numbers, including 15 calls from the phone to a number associated with one of Pruitt’s cellmates, Setser said. During Pruitt’s trial, the inmate who is accused of making the 15 calls asserted his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself, according to court records.

No one other than Pruitt was charged, though investigators believe others used the phone.

This is the first cell phone possession case in the Ninth Circuit that has gone to trial, said Assistant District Attorney Angela Carpenter, who also prosecuted the case.

In January, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps called cell phones one of the biggest contraband items in the state’s prison system. In February, the state increased penalties, virtually eliminating all privileges for inmates convicted of possessing a cell phone.

Those caught won’t be allowed to make purchases from the commissary and won’t be allowed to use the prison phone.