Victory: Santa Barbara County scraps harmful jail letter ban policy
by Leah Sakala, October 3, 2014
This week brought great news for families in Santa Barbara County, California: the local jail has decided to end its ban on all incoming letters from families and friends. Previously, people who wanted to write to incarcerated loved ones were only allowed to use postcards.
As our report found, letter bans jeopardize family ties that are key to reducing recidivism, running contrary to correctional best practices (you can also check out our short video for more info on letter bans). Furthermore, a federal court found that banning letters from home was unconstitutional.
We were deeply concerned when we learned of Santa Barbara County’s plans to institute the letter ban a year and a half ago, so we immediately organized a sign on letter with more than 50 local and national organizations urging the county to reconsider. Local community members in Santa Barbara have also been hard at work organizing the Right to Write Campaign to overturn the ban (here’s a powerful video they put together about their work).
Now, Santa Barbara has joined the growing number of counties that have decided that letter bans are a step in the wrong direction. Congratulations to the Right to Write Campaign, sign on letter participants, and everyone else whose hard work brought about this big win for families in Santa Barbara County!