Australian prisoners are becoming social media celebrities by using bootleg phones to gain internet notoriety behind bars.
The discovery that prisoners are using social media inside Australia’s prisons to share snippets of their prison lives with a young audience online has prompted an investigation by Corrective Services NSW.
Inmates are not allowed to own or use mobile phones in Australia’s correctional facilities, but that hasn’t stopped scammers from posting on social media platforms like TikTok.
Videos glorifying violence, crime, and prison life have found their way into the media, along with other seemingly innocuous rap and dance videos.
Prisoners can face sentence extensions of up to two years if they are caught trying to bring or smuggle phones into prison.
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The ‘Snoee Badman’ rapper used a smuggled prison phone and social media to increase the audience for his rap while behind bars.
Former wakeboarder Kyle Richardson had been using a smuggled mobile phone to share TikTok dances with the outside world after being jailed following a car accident that seriously injured his then 18-year-old girlfriend in 2020.
Inmate Kyle Richardson, who has styled himself the ‘prince of Parklea’, amassed thousands of followers on TikTok by posting videos of himself dancing in green prison pants, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Kyle Richardson did not try to hide his identity or his surroundings in his viral videos, with his cell phone, uniform, tattoos and face clearly visible.
The inmate amassed some 11,000 followers in a short space of time with his videos displayed on hundreds of thousands of phone screens.
He has also been active on other social media accounts while in prison.
His account has now been deleted after Corrective Services NSW confirmed they were aware of the videos.
One of his videos was captioned: ‘When you see your party mates pulling 10s but you’ve been gone for a while (sic)’.
The 21-year-old “walked away” from an MDMA-fueled high-speed accident on Sydney’s M1 that seriously injured his 18-year-old girlfriend in 2020.
Sharing TikTok dances in his prison and cell earned Kyle Richardson thousands of social media followers, but his accounts have now disappeared.
In her cell (pictured), Snoee Badman used voice recording apps and TikTok to produce and share her raps.
Former prisoner and rapper Snoee Badman used a smuggled mobile phone to film himself rapping inside his cell.
One of the rapper’s videos, showing him performing in a Long Bay cell, clocked more than 62,000 views on TikTok.
Another titled ‘Bars Behind Bars’ has 42,000 views.
Speaking to a podcast, the rapper said he had a few phones during his ‘brick’, a 10-year prison stint, and used a voice recording app to record an entire rap album.
Search dogs and teams are trained to sniff out mobile phones before an inmate enters the jail, but many still find their way into the hands of inmates.
Smaller contraband phones are often smuggled into prisons in the rectum, a prison source said.
The presence of mobile phones in Australian prisons endangers law enforcement officers, allows criminals to communicate and conduct illegal operations behind bars, and influence the country’s youth online.
Corrective Services NSW has been testing mobile phone signal jammers at Lithgow and Goulburn Correctional Facilities, and continues to investigate the best way to prevent phones from entering prison.
“Corrective Services NSW takes a zero-tolerance approach to smuggling and is at the forefront of developing and implementing technologies to combat the extraordinary lengths to which prisoners go in smuggling mobile phones,” said a Corrective Services spokeswoman.
NSW Shadow Correctives Minister Tara Moriarty said more prisons were needed to introduce mobile jamming technology.
“It’s ridiculous that it hasn’t been expanded yet,” he told the Saturday Telegraph.
“It’s one thing to create videos for social media, but what else are they doing with these phones.”