For six years, rural Anderson County, Tn., has beamed live 24-hour video from its jail, offering anyone with a computer and the Internet a view into the realities of jail life, says The Tennessean. Because of security concerns, the experiment – which appears to be the only such system operating in the U.S. – could be ending. Some viewers have been harassing female jailers by calling them on the telephone and taunting them as they work. Other viewers track inmate movements and using the information to coordinate deliveries of contraband to prisoners on work details outside the jail.
“It’s a good public relations thing. It shows the public what we are doing. I like that idea,” said Paul White, who in August became sheriff in the East Tennessee county of 75,000. “But by the same token, now that people are using it for bad things, we have to weigh the odds. The bad things that could happen are not worth the good things that happen out of it.” As of last week, the Anderson County site had logged more than 8.8 million Web hits from across the U.S. and from places as far away as Sweden, Belgium, and England.