Some Arkansas Inmates Have Access to Private Records

FEBRUARY 5, 2007 - Posted at 7:47 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - About a dozen women prisoners at the Wrightsville Unit of the state prison system have duties that give them access to private medical records kept by the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services. Those records include Social Security numbers.

Arkansas is one of a dozen states that allow inmates access to Social Security numbers. But state prison officials say identity theft by an inmate is almost impossible.

The inmates scan the state documents through a machine that converts them to a digital format that can be stored on the Internet or in computers.

Dina Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, says the inmates aren't allowed to carry paper or writing utensils into the work area, are monitored by security personnel and scan a large volume of documents during a shift. Tyler says the department has gotten no reports of identity theft. She says that considering the volume of documents, the inmates would have to be extraordinarily good at memorizing numbers to attempt identity theft.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)