Do you surrender your right to privacy when you contact someone in jail?
March 17, 2012 3:22 AM   Subscribe

Do you surrender your right to privacy when you contact someone in jail?

This may be a silly question, but while I know that an inmate has no expectation of privacy and that anything they say or write to people on the outside can be used against them, does this also apply to the people with whom they're communicating? This is for county jail in texas, if it makes a difference.
posted by bookman117 to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: With the exception of communication from their lawyers, inmates' mail is regularly searched and their phone calls regularly monitored and recorded. You communicate with an inmate, you're going to have to deal with that.

The Fifth Amendment does not prevent statements you've made from being used against you. It just prevents you from being forced to make statements you don't want to make. Volunteering information in such a way that the state gets wind of it is not protected.

However, assuming the inmate is someone in whom the prosecution has no lasting interest, this searching generally has more to do with combating smuggling and detecting contraband than it does with reading inmates' letters. If you're writing to an organized crime kingpin, then yeah, they're probably going to read every single bit of mail he gets, hoping to find some information they might use to further dismantle the organization. But if it's someone doing time for a DWI? Not as likely. You still need to be careful, because there probably isn't a reasonable expectation of privacy, but it's probably not that big of a deal.
posted by valkyryn at 4:05 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't communicate with this person in writing, only over the phone or when I visit her in jail. They obviously don't have time to go through all of those recordings that exist for all the inmates anyway, though if her case were to go all the way to trial i think the jury would probably listen to all of the recordings, right?
posted by bookman117 at 4:26 AM on March 17, 2012

Best answer: Do not discuss her case with her. The prosecution is listening.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:39 AM on March 17, 2012 [9 favorites]

If it's something important (the location where they buried the suitcase full of stolen gold), maybe you could use their lawyer as an intermediary?
posted by Cironian at 5:26 AM on March 17, 2012

What do you mean by your right to privacy? Are you asking if your conversations can be heard and statements made can be used against you?
posted by J. Wilson at 7:24 AM on March 17, 2012

Always assume that someone will listen to the conversation. ALWAYS. You're not the person's lawyer and therefore have no right to privacy in this situation.
posted by imagineerit at 9:07 AM on March 17, 2012

I have personally listened to phone calls between jailed persons and their friends and family members on the outside. "They" have as much time as they need.
posted by prefpara at 10:25 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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