COURIER-JOURNAL -- Aug 1 -- The Federal Bureau of Prisons site allows visitors to locate inmates in federal prisons anywhere with a few keystrokes. Visit www.bop.gov. Other sites include: WriteAPrisoner.com, Penpals-N-Prison, FriendsBeyondTheWall. Thurman is serving time for murder Kentucky and his ad is posted on WriteAPrisoner.com. An e-mail from a woman: "I just want you to know that if you do write back I will not judge you because of your current situation. I know what it's like to have made bad choices. I've been there. I will tell you more when you write back, and send you a picture." The number of U.S. prison inmates has grown to more than 2 million. Prisoners don't have computer access, and the Web sites only facilitate initial contact. Afterward, inmates and their pen pals typically exchange cards, letters and telephone calls, and sometimes schedule visits. The posting of one inmate didn't list his two first-degree rape convictions, according to the Kentucky Online Offender Lookup, or KOOL, a link on the Kentucky Department of Corrections' site. People are fascinated by death-row inmates. Serial murderers John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy both married women they'd corresponded with before their executions. WriteAPrisoner.com charges $40 for a yearlong ad, and business is booming. "We average 10,000 visitors a day, and gross about $200,000 a year," said Lovell. "It just keeps growing."
Mark Brooks: Buyers beware. Proceed with caution, if you must.