28/06/14 Social media site for prisoners proving an outlet for killer Julian Knight
The website iexpress.org.au has been dubbed “Facebook for criminals” and has been established to help inmates with their rehabilitation.
Prisoner advocacy group Justice Action set up the web page and uploads information and images for prisoners and facilitates their contact with the public.
Knight was one of the first prisoners to take advantage of the new website and posted a picture of himself posing with boxing gloves and a punching bag.
Website organisers correspond with prisoners via mail in order to post the material online.
Victims of crime advocates have blasted the website and Corrections Victoria confirmed it does not support it.
Knight, 46, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 27 years for murdering seven people and wounding 19 others in the 1987 massacre.
Crime Victims Support Association spokesman Noel McNamara called the website a “disgrace” and told the Herald Sun he will meet Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue this week to voice his concerns.
“It is a deeply disturbing thing to set up,” Mr McNamara said.
“In my opinion it is garbage and should not be allowed.
“Prisoners have too many rights and luxuries as it is. It is an absolute disgrace and morally wrong.”
Knight’s profile is basic, with a brief description of his crimes and links to other websites about the massacre.
Other prisoners have used their profile pages to give details of life inside prison, to write poetry and ask for forgiveness.
Michael Newhouse, a spokesman for Corrections Victoria, urged those in charge of the website to consider the effect it will have on crime victims.
“Corrections Victoria definitely does not endorse or support it,” Mr Newhouse said.
“Our staff carefully vet all correspondence coming in and out of prison.
“We would expect iexpress to seriously consider the effect that publishing this information has on victims of crime.”
Prisoners do not have direct internet access so Justice Action prints correspondence out and delivers it to inmates.
After receiving instructions from prisoners the group then writes up responses for members of the public on their behalf.
Justice Action coordinator Brett Collins said the group moderates content and has “strict rules”.
He said the group is in discussions with Corrective Services NSW about allowing prisoners access to printers and online facilities — something he hopes will then be rolled out in Victoria and other states.
“This is very much a moving project,” he said.
“Technology will be part of their rehabilitation.
“We monitor what goes up. Nothing aggressive goes up. The next stage is to have printers in the wings so we can use that instead of mail.
“We are also talking about getting computers in cells so prisoners have the ability to speak to counsellors online.”
From Herald Sun Jun 28, 2014