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Prison Officials' Addresses in Inmates' Computer

January 12, 1993|RALPH FRAMMOLINO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — Members of the obscure Prison Industry Board got a scare last week when they discovered an administrative goof had left their private addresses and phone numbers in a computer used by Folsom Prison inmates.

Prison officials said Monday they had launched an internal investigation to determine how many Folsom inmates may have seen the list, which was marked "confidential" and inadvertently left on the hard disk of an office computer sent Dec. 7 to the maximum-security prison near Sacramento.

An inmate using the computer to design prison-made goods alerted authorities to the list Thursday. So far, officials said there have been no reports of prisoners calling board members at home or work.

"When I heard about this, my hair stood up," said developer Leonard Greenstone, a retired Los Angeles sheriff's reserve officer who serves on the board. "My wife says she's going to pack up and move."

Greenstone, who has participated in a number of undercover narcotics busts over 25 years, said he is afraid the list may wind up in the hands of someone he helped put in prison. Anything marked "confidential" is extremely salable among prisoners, he said.

Mindful of possible reprisals, prison officials normally go to great lengths to keep their personal addresses and phone numbers away from inmates, even when the information is listed in the phone book.

Christine May, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said Monday the same precautions apply to the 11-member Prison Industry Board, a panel of political appointees charged with overseeing the system of prison enterprises that provide $147 million in goods and services to state agencies.

"Definitely, it was a breach of security, absolutely, and that's why we're taking it very seriously," said May. "We wanted to make sure that those people are not subject to any kind of retaliatory actions. . . ."

May and David King, executive director of the Prison Industry Authority, said the list was on the hard disk of a computer that had been used in the authority's office for about a year before it was shipped to Folsom's engineering department, where inmates are employed to design desks and furniture.

King said that before moving the computer, his staff tried to erase the list, which contains either the home or business numbers of all but the newest board members. "They thought the disk was clean," he said.

On Thursday, however, chagrined prison officials found out otherwise. An inmate stumbled across the file. "As soon as he noticed it said 'confidential' on the top, he called his superior," May said.

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