HORN LAKE, MS (WMC-TV) - Prisoners are supposed to get limited contact with the outside world. That's why they're in prison - to be removed from the outside world. But at least one prisoner found a way to stay connected, in real time, through Facebook.
For months, convicted murderer William Joseph Hogan used Facebook to mentally escape prison life, communicating with friends from all over, as well as his mother.
"If the pen gets any better, I might not want to leave," he wrote in one post. "Tattoos dirt cheap, sleep all day, play volleyball, sun tan, workout and read."
Hogan's posts came from behind bars as he serves a life sentence at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.
"Hello free world folks, hope everyone is doing well," he wrote in one post.
"Good thing I have a way to stay in touch with my 'friends,'" he wrote in another.
Hogan was imprisoned for murdering Reba Garrett's granddaughter, Wendy Renee Thweatt Hogan, just over two hears ago in Horn Lake.
"He shot her eight times," Garrett said. "We had to have her cremated. We didn't get to say goodbye."
Garrett's three great-grandchildren were in the home as Hogan killed the only parent they had left. Their dad died in a car crash. They now live with their aunt.
"It changed their life forever," Garrett said.
There's been little change for Hogan, though, according to his posts on Facebook. He lists himself as widowed, and interested in dating and relationships with women.
"He's trying to act like he's an ordinary guy. (He posted) Pictures of himself in a boat. Sitting there in a boat like, ''Here, I'm just a regular, Joe,'" Garrett said.
"No, you're not widowed, you killed your wife!"
Hogan has broken the correction center's rules time and time again by using a cell phone. On Facebook, he's even posted swastikas and other Nazi symbols.
One Facebook friend replied, "Lol I didn't know they let u guys use Facebook."In another post, Hogan wrote, "Just got through visiting my mama everything went great..."
His mother wrote back,"I enjoyed my visit with you too. You are a great young man...you make a bad situation the best you can. Love ya."
Action News 5 asked Mississippi's Department of Corrections why Hogan was allowed to be on Facebook. At first, corrections officials thought someone from the free world may have been making posts on Hogan's behalf, because prisoners do not have Facebook access.
But the following day, a spokesperson replied in an email, saying, "Thank you Ms. Brown for bringing this to our attention. When we find instances where inmates have violated the rules, measures are taken. MDOC has reported to Facebook that this is an illegal account."
According to Mississippi State Senator Merle Flowers, with 21,000 inmates across the state, things like this are bound to happen.
"We want to thank Action News 5 for bringing it to our attention," she said. "Certainly, you don't know about some things until people tell you about them."
MDOC placed Hogan on lock down, and transferred him to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, home of the new Operation Cellblock. There, new technology intercepts illegal cell phone transmissions by inmates.
"It could have gone on for months or years," Garrett said.
Before prison officials shut down Hogan's Facebook account, his final post read, "Nothing goin on down here". Maybe now that's a little more accurate.
MDOC says the new cell phone blocking technology marks a turning point. The Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman was the first prison to use the new technology in the United States. During its first month of operation, the state intercepted nearly 216,000 illegal phone calls.
The technology is expected to be in place in all Mississippi State prisons within this fiscal year.