Death Row Inmates on MySpace

In Red Herring:

At first glance, the MySpace page of Randy Halprin, 29, of Livingston, Texas, is just a typical profile on the social networking site. It features a photograph of a smiling young man and dozens of blinking graphics of peace signs, goofy-looking aliens, pop-culture images and pro-vegetarian icons. The profile has 170 friends listed as of November 15, 2006. “Look at all the beauty still left around you and be happy, – Anne Frank” quotes his profile title.

It isn’t apparent until reading the blog entries on his profile that Mr. Halprin is a convicted murderer, awaiting his execution on death row.

Mr. Halprin is one of the “Texas 7,” a group of criminals that escaped from prison on Dec. 13, 2000. Of the escaped convicts, he was the youngest of the group at 23, and also serving the shortest sentence of 30 years for injury to a child. After escaping from prison, the seven were running low on funds, so they started on a spree of robberies, killing a police officer and injuring others. This landed all seven convicts on death row.

Since death row immates do not have Internet access, the profiles on MySpace are created and hosted for them by friends and family. Some profiles feature blog posts, which are transcribed from letters sent from jail.

(Kevin Poulsen comments in Wired.)