LAFAYETTE — The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether an inmate in the parish jail has been using a cellphone to post status updates and jail cell photos on a social media site.
The Facebook page of inmate Alvin Terrell Louis, 32, shows that from July 16 until Monday there were almost 100 posts written on his Facebook page, possibly composed by Louis in a jail cell at the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center. The page also contains comments and conversations involving Facebook users outside the jail.
It is against Louisiana law for an inmate to possess a cellphone, some of which are essentially hand-held computers with access to the Internet. It also is against the law for inmates to engage in social media exchanges.
Traci Landry, a spokesperson for Sheriff Mark Hebert, said investigators are trying to determine if Louis wrote the posts from jail or if someone outside the jail is responsible.
“We have to determine if he was the one who posted the comments,” Landry said. “We don’t know if he was actually posting from that location (the jail). It could have been someone else using his account.”
Louis’ name on his Facebook page is Alvin Albaby Louis, or Albaby Dagoodbadguy Show, and the Facebook compositions are difficult to decipher and are filled with profanity.
One post portends the end of Louis’ social media conversations.
“WELL, THERE CANCELING MY SHOW… The only bad thing about beefing with a lot of ppl is … You dont know who gon get u (they still telling on me) … Ive seen it a numerous amount of times …,” reads a post on Louis’ page dated Sunday.
Louis, from Patterson, is wearing a turban in his Facebook profile photo, and some of the photos on the site show him holding a cellphone and in the company of other inmates.
Another photo is of a man holding a gun to his head. Landry said authorities are investigating that photo and all aspects of Louis’ possible use of Facebook inside the jail.
“It’s a matter of determining whether it is Mr. Louis” making the posts, Landry said.
In his most recent run-in with the law, Louis was booked Oct. 30 into the parish jail in Centerville.
Eddie Jones, who is Louis’ court-appointed attorney, was unavailable for comment Thursday. Craig Colwart, who oversees Jones and other public defenders in the three-parish 16th Judicial District, said Louis is in jail on three charges: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and second-degree battery. Colwart said Louis’ trial, originally scheduled for September, has been postponed.
Colwart said if Louis is found to have had a cellphone in jail and is convicted of the charge, he could be sentenced to up to five years for having contraband in the jail.
The penalty for participating in social media while incarcerated is less severe — 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, under the state law enacted in 2011.
One of the 100 most recent posts on Louis’ Facebook page talks about him changing his Facebook name to Albaby Dagoodbadguy:
“B4 2day my calls went unanswered and my text were ignored, then I change my name on fb, now Im getting calls, texts, comments and ppl inboxing me … .”
The status updates stopped Monday, the day the Sheriff’s Office was notified about the posts.
“The reason that the posts stopped may have something to do with the action (sheriff’s officials) took,” Landry said. “We did report the inappropriate content to Facebook that day.”
St. Mary Parish jail officials have had to deal with inmates engaging others on Facebook in the past. In October 2012, investigators arrested inmate Gabrieo Boulanger, of Morgan City, on one count of posting photos on Facebook.
And jailers continue to fight the flow of contraband — illegal drugs, phones and other prohibited items — into the jail. In early July, five St. Mary Parish jail inmates were arrested on counts of possessing contraband, including cellphones, while behind bars. Louis was not among those arrested.
Prison system officials across the country have for years tried to get the Federal Communications Commission to relax its decades-old ban on technology that blocks cellphone signals in a given area. The officials said illegal enterprises inside prisons thrive because criminals communicate with confederates outside the prisons to carry out crimes.
The FCC bans jammers because it interferes with emergency communications and other transmissions. The agency is now pushing technology, which has had success in a Mississippi prison, that intercepts and analyzes phone signals, according to Government Security News magazine.
At the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, an inmate was arrested two years ago for using a cellphone to update his Facebook page, jail Director Rob Reardon said.
He said jails across the country are wrestling with the problem of cellphones being smuggled to inmates, essentially equipping those locked up with a hand-held computer through which they engage in social media, Reardon said.
“We didn’t have this problem years ago … with the big old bag (cellular) phones,” Reardon said. “As the devices got smaller and smaller, it’s something we’ve had to battle on a continuous basis.”
Reardon said the most recent arrest of a Lafayette inmate who got a cellphone and a Facebook page was two years ago.