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San Juan – Three inmates at a Puerto Rico prison, two of them convicted of murder, are part of an experiment that has them tweet out three times daily about their everyday life in confinement.
The pilot program, dubbed "Follow me so you don't follow me," seeks to discourage juvenile crime in the island by providing a stark account of their day-to-day reality within four walls.
"This is not a reality show that enhances the life of crime, but the harsh reality of making a wrong decision," said Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation secretary, Jesús González Cruz.
The trio that handles the account –in Spanish- are inmates at a correctional complex in Guayama, a town in southern Puerto Rico.
González Cruz explained that they have limited and supervised access to the account, @followtunfollow, where they post messages about actual incidents in prison and about the rehabilitation process.
“Right now my father is ill and I would give my life to be with him but I can’t. You can and you don’t do it,” reads one of the posts tweeted Wednesday. “Hi, my name is Alexander and am an inmate serving a 99-year sentence. I will tell you the story of why I am confined,” reads another, with quite a few misspellings.
González Cruz said that as a measure of security the inmates write their tweets from a computer located in an administrative area of the institution, and that they are supervised at all times.
The outgoing messages are monitored by DCR staff before publication in Twitter and the accounts are monitored by the agency's IT staff.
"We understand that with this project we will reach an audience that we would not be able to reach otherwise,” González said. “Young people are more likely to fall into a pattern of criminality, despite all the campaigns that for decades have tried to discourage this behavior."
So far the account has more than 6,000 followers. The inmates are identified by the handles "inmate," ''inmate2" and "inmate3."
The U.S. territory of 4 million people reported a record 1,117 homicides last year.