The student convicted of hacking into the Yahoo email account of US politician Sarah Palin while she was the Republican candidate for vice president has begun serving a prison term.
David Kernell was sentenced in November to one year and a day at a halfway house. But on January 10, he began serving his time at a federal prison camp in Kentucky, said Edmond Ross, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
"It's only a recommendation," Ross told SCMagazineUS.com. "Judges don't have the authority to place an inmate in any particular location."
Ross could not comment on why Kernell was moved to a prison instead of a halfway house, but said it depends on a security designation.
The facility where Kernell is imprisoned with 314 others is the lowest security level in the prison system. The site is not enclosed by a fence and contains dormitory-like housing, he said. In addition, inmates typically have a job, participate in recreational, religious and educational programs and can receive visitors.
Kernell is expected to be released November 23, 2011, if he displays good conduct, Ross said.
He was found guilty last April to charges of unlawful computer access and obstruction of justice. Kernell was a 20-year-old economics student at the University of Tennessee in 2008 when he hacked his way past security questions to access Palin's personal email account.
Kernell gained access by providing Palin's birth date and ZIP code to Yahoo's password retrieval system. Prosecutors had sought an 18-month prison sentence.