Imprisoned polygamist leader loses phone privileges

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2012 6:18 PM
Imprisoned polygamist leader loses phone privileges

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The state of Texas has hung up the phone on imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

The Department of Criminal Justice said the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints lost his telephone privileges after he broke prison rules governing phone usage.

"Jeffs made two telephone calls on Christmas Day to people on his phone list," prison spokesman Jason Clark told Reuters on Monday. "In that process, that phone conversation was either put on speaker phone, or recorded and played back to his church congregation. By broadcasting that conversation to a third party, that violated the rules."

The restrictions will remain in place for 90 days.

The penalty for what Clark called Jeff's "major violation" also includes the suspension of other prison privileges.

"He was handed down a punishment of 90 days commissary restrictions, four months of contact visitation restrictions, and 15 day recreation restrictions," Clark said.

Jeffs, 56, is in protective custody in the Powledge Prison Unit in Palestine, in east Texas, where he is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two young girls he had taken as child brides at his polygamist ranch in west Texas.

Clark says the commissary violation means Jeffs will not be allowed to use money to purchase snacks and other "luxury items" from the prison store. He will be restricted to buying only "correspondence, legal, and hygiene materials."

The contact restrictions bar Jeffs from meeting with visitors at a table in a visiting room. Instead, he will have to speak with them through a mesh or a glass screen.

Officials declined to release the content of Jeffs' message to his congregation.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Paul Thomasch)