Santa Clara County, CA sheriff scraps plan to ban letters from home

Successful community organizing led Sheriff John Hirokawa to cancel plans to limit correspondence to postcard only.

by Leah Sakala, August 9, 2013

San Jose paper

Great news for families in Santa Clara County, California: Sheriff John Hirokawa has scrapped a destructive plan to ban families from writing letters to loved ones in jail. As my report, “Return to Sender: Postcard-only policies in jail,” found, jail letter bans jeopardize the critical family ties that help incarcerated people succeed when they return home.

Santa Clara residents were rightly outraged when they discovered that the Sheriff was planning on banning letters from the jail. With the leadership of local media and community organizing group Silicon Valley De-Bug, they held a powerful public forum to share their concerns with the Sheriff’s Department. And, to the sheriff’s credit, he called off the ban.

Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County residents in Southern California are still fighting to overturn the letter ban in the local jail. Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown would be wise to follow Santa Clara County’s example and end the letter ban that undermines public safety and drives families apart.

3 Responses

  1. […] check out the San Jose Mercury News coverage, and the blog of the victory form our friends at the Prison Policy Institute who are fighting this ban nationally. Our hope is other counties may be inspired by the families of […]

  2. Betsy Wolf-Graves says:

    No way are we going to give in to another of Sheriff Arpaio’s dehumanizing actions against people in prisons and their families. Our focus is on keeping families together.
    It seems to me that there are more efficient ways of rooting out drug trafficking in letters than this wholesale ban on families. Betsy

  3. […] We also stepped up to the plate to bring an end to the latest harmful fad in local jails: banning letters from home. Our groundbreaking report on why banning families from writing to loved ones in jail is harmful and counterproductive was called “required reading” by the National Institute of Corrections, and helped a grassroots campaign in Santa Clara California halt the local sheriff’s letter ban proposal. […]



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