Several New Times staffers were stunned this week when they received Facebook friend requests from Joe Watson, a former New Times staff writer who decided to take his writing career in a (ahem) different direction -- he's now a poet (sort of).
Watson, you see, is also known as the "Salon Bandit," and he's currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for holding up several tanning salons in 2007. In other words, to quote Clark W. Griswold, if we woke up tomorrow with our heads sewn to the carpet, we wouldn't be more surprised than we were when we got a friend request from a guy who's currently doing a 12-year bid in an Arizona prison.
We spoke to Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections, and asked if inmates were now using Facebook.
"They shouldn't be," a stunned Lamoreaux tells New Times.
Lamoreaux says inmates have absolutely no access to the Internet, let alone Facebook. He says the precaution is taken for the same reason cell phones aren't allowed in prisons -- it's a potential escape risk.
DOC spokesman Barrett Marson says the same thing. He echoes Lamoreaux in saying
that if the person claiming to be Watson on Facebook is the actual "Salon Bandit" it's likely he's having someone outside of the prison maintain his Facebook page.
Marson says because of Watson's low-security classification he has frequent access to phones, which he could use to chat with whomever is maintaining his page.
So how's Joe doing? Well, according to his most recent Facebook status, posted today, he's "free on the inside, man. Free. On. The Inside."
In a post from earlier this week, Watson says "