March 8, 2013
Sheriff Bill Brown
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department
4434 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Dear Sheriff Brown
We, the undersigned state and national criminal justice policy and community organizations, write to express our concern about your intention to implement a new mail policy on Monday, March 11, 2013, that would ban family and community members from sending letters to the jail, restricting incoming mail to postcards only. We urge you to immediately cancel your plan to implement a postcard-only mail restriction.
As discussed in the Prison Policy Initiative report "Return to Sender: Postcard-only Mail Policies in Jail," jail postcard-only policies undermine public safety by straining the community ties that are essential for facilitating reentry and reducing recidivism. Furthermore, postcard-only policies place an undue burden on the disproportionately low-income families of people in jail. Social science research is unambiguous about the benefits of maintaining community ties during and after the period of incarceration, and major correctional and legal associations agree that contact with the outside community should be encouraged, not stifled.
The vast majority of correctional and detention facilities handle mail security without resorting to dramatic postcards restrictions. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 2011 National Detention Standards specifically prohibit postcard restrictions in any facility that holds immigration detainees. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told a reporter why his system would not even consider implementing a postcard-only policy: “We believe the mail coming to inmates is as important as their phone calls. If we were to limit the mail, we believe we would see a rise in mental challenges, maybe even violence."
We urge you to immediately cancel implementation of this policy, and prioritize studying three questions:
We trust that you will give this matter careful consideration.
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
Americans for Immigrant Justice, formerly Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Anahola Homesteaders Council (AHC)
Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
Campaign for Youth Justice
CLUE (Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice) Santa Barbara
Conservatives for Social Change
Creative Empowerment NFP
Crossroad Bible Institute
Families & Allies of Virginia's Youth
Human Rights Defense Center
Insight Prison Project
Integrated Justice Alliance c/o NJISJ
Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM, MN)
Johnson & Brennan, PLLC
Justice for Families
Law Offices of James W. Whitehouse
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Media Literacy Project
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
National Police Accountability Project, Inc.
New Mexico CURE
New York Law Collective
Northern New Jersey AEC Prison Ministry Federation
Picture Projects, Inc.
Prison Action Network
Prison Families Anonymous
Prison Policy Initiative
Prisoners Are People, Too, Inc.
Social Action Committee/Delta Upsilon, OPP
Social Justice Law Collective, PL
Southern Center for Human Rights
Statewide Poverty Action Network
Tamms Year Ten
Texas Jail Project
The Aleph Institute
The Center for Church and Prison, Inc.
The Lionheart Foundation
The Real Cost of Prisons Project
The Reformed Church of Highland Park
The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara
United Church of Christ/Justice and Witness Ministries
Voters Legislative Transparency Project
Women on the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH)
Women Who Never Give Up
 See, for example, American Correctional Association, Public Correctional Policy on Reentry of Offenders, resolution 2001-3, passed August 15, 2001, reviewed and amended Aug. 16, 2006 and August 6, 2011. Published in American Correctional Association, Public Correctional Policies 2012, 79. (Accessed November 4, 2012 from: https://www.aca.org/government/policyresolution/PDFs/Public_Correctional_Policies.pdf); American Jail Association, Adult/Juvenile Offender Access to Telephones resolution, adopted May 3, 2008. (Accessed November 4, 2012 from: http://www.aca.org/government/policyresolution/view.asp?ID=2&printview=1 ); American Bar Association, Standard 23-8.6 Written communications, ABA Standards for Criminal Justice: Treatment of Prisoners, 3rd edition, (Washington D.C.: American Bar Association, 2011), 266; Council of State Governments, Reentry Policy Council, Policy Statement 13 in Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council: Charting the Safe and Successful Return of Prisoners to the Community (New York: Council of State Governments, January 2005). (Accessed January 4, 2013 from: http://www.reentrypolicy.org/Report/PartII/ChapterII-B/PolicyStatement13/ ).
 Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 5.1 Correspondence and Other Mail in 2011 Operations Manual ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011), 276.
 Steve Whitmore, quoted in Associated Press, Ventura County jail limits inmates to postcards, Ventura County Star, September 24, 2010. (Accessed October 20, 2012 from: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/sep/24/ventura-county-jail-limits-inmates-to-postcards/.)
 Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 276.