Become a friend with a criminal on MySpace

By Jessica Chesko
February 15, 2007

Charlie Grugan

When you first look at the MySpace profile of Randy Halprin, 29, it looks just like any other profile. It displays his quotes and photographs, favorites and friends.

It isn’t until you read Halprin’s blog that you realize he is no ordinary MySpace user. Halprin is a convicted murderer currently on death row in Texas.

Crime victim advocates are in an uproar over the revelation that 30 inmates in Texas alone have profiles on the popular web site MySpace. According to USA Today, internet access is not permitted to the inmates, so they get family and friends to do it for them.

Andy Kahan, director of the crime and victims office for Houston Mayor Bill White, recently sent a letter to MySpace asking that they remove any profile belonging to a convicted criminal. He also alerted the media, which sparked another debate on free speech.

“I think MySpace should remove Randy Halprin’s MySpace page. I think that if they are allowing this type of person to have a MySpace page then only God knows who else they are allowing to have a page [convicted rapists, convicted child predators, etc],” a member of the Criminal Justice Online forum said.

Another member replied, “At least we know who he is. He’s open, honest about who he is and where he is. I am sure there are people on MySpace who are not who they say they are. Surely they are a bigger danger… they are in the free world and lying to us about who or what they are. Somebody like that scares me a lot more.”

Despite the removal of Halprin’s MySpace profile, he still continues to get his thoughts out via his own web site. According to Halprin, his lawyer questioned him about his MySpace account.

“He was quite pissed about the negative attention my MySpace page received more so out of concern about my words being taken out of context,” wrote Halprin. “I understand that completely- my own words were used against me during my first trial. So many things twisted and misconstrued. I told him I was only trying to put a human face to death row and I feel obligated to use whatever writing skills I have to do so.”

Halprin later continued by writing, “There are people trying to say that if our family or friends want to access the internet on our behalf they have that right. And I’m going to fight for that, too.”

“They are in prison to be punished for their crimes, not to have someone post a MySpace page for them, telling the world of their crimes or how sorry they are; it’s not fair to the victim,” sophomore studio arts major Jessica Storm said. “Not to be paranoid, but what if a convicted killer was encoding messages in his MySpace page, instructing a fellow accomplice? It’s just not a good idea to let prisoners have a MySpace page, even if someone else is in control of the content.”

Halprin’s MySpace profile is currently inactive but it is unknown whether MySpace intends to remove the profiles of other criminals.

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Jessica Chesko

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