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on May 19, 2014 at 8:56 AM, updated May 19, 2014 at 11:02 AM
GRAFTON, Ohio – The Lorain County Correctional Institution
Institution acknowledged Friday that pirated movies are being shown to prisoners there, even as inmates serve time for illegally downloading movies.
Richard Humphrey, 22, of North Ridgeville was sent to the Lorain County prison in February for a parole violation and remained there until May 6. According to a post on the sitetorrentfreak.com, while he was a prisoner, he said guards showed inmates “Ride Along” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” before they were released on DVD.
He was on parole for a charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, to which he pleaded guilty in 2010. A year earlier, he pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement in federal court for selling downloaded movies before their commercial release.
He said the girl contacted him via Myspace, and her page said she was 21 years old. He said she often drove to his house and bought beer, and he had no reason to believe she was underage until the police came to his house to question him.
A spokesperson for Lorain County Correctional Institution Warden Kimberly Clipper said prison officials are aware that pirated movies are being shown to prisoners and the issue is being investigated. But she said she couldn’t comment further because the investigation is ongoing.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said Friday that it is looking into pirated movies being screened at the Grafton prison, but a spokesperson said she couldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation.
The spokesperson said movies must be reviewed and approved before being shown to prisoners, and the department is looking into whether prison staff brought unapproved movies into the facility.
In April, 2010, Humphrey was sentenced to 29 months in prison for selling pirated copies of movies through the subscription-based USAWAREZ.com.
According to a press release on the U.S. Department of Justice Website, Humphrey operated the site from December 2006 to October 2007.
“It was just a hobby,” he told the Chronicle-Telegram of Elyria. “I didn’t understand the severity.”
The practice is so common, he said Monday, that some people probably watch pirated movies and don’t even realize what they’re doing is illegal.
Humphrey said he saw “Ride Along” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” three or four times while he was in an intake pod that every prisoner must go through at the beginning of their sentence.
“There were others, but those are the ones that stood out,” he said.
In some cases, Humphrey said the movies appeared to have been illegally recorded by theater-goers.
“You could see people walking in front of the camera,” he said.
He said the problem doesn’t seem to be systemic, but some prison staff are aware they are showing pirated movies.
Humphrey said brought the problem to the attention of prison officials. He posted a phone conversation with Clipper online in which the warden assured him the matter is being looked into.
Even with the assurance, Humphrey is doubtful prison officials will take the issue seriously.
In a video he posted on the video sharing site Vimeo earlier this month he accused prison officials of hypocrisy.
“How do you expect someone to be rehabilitated when there’s authority figures that are running those institutions that are copyright infringing?” Humphrey said.