Jail Mail Controversy Continues

Thursday, August 29, 2013
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A Sheriff’s Office regulation limiting mail to jail inmates to postcards continues to provoke blowback from those with incarcerated family members, many of whom have spoken at the last two county supervisor meetings. They include a woman named Marissa Garcia who organized a group called Right to Write that has begun a petition on Her husband is in jail, and she read a letter of his during public comment on Tuesday. Another woman said that her jailed son’s daughter gives her letters to send without realizing that her father never receives them. The purpose of the regulation is to cut down on contraband smuggling.

This story was amended on August 29, 2013 because it erroneously stated that postcards must be limited to 3x5 inches. There is, in fact, no size limit. It also stated that the reason for the regulation was to reduce workload. According to Sheriff’s spokesperson, Kelly Hoover, “The policy in fact does not reduce the workload for Custody Staff but does increase its efficiency with distributing mail and conducting searches.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Technically, you aren't guilty of anything until convicted, so this is a punishment that does not fit the crime.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
August 29, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Right, so everyone accused of a crime should remain free until they are convicted, otherwise that's a punishment that doesn't fit the (alleged) crime as well.

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 29, 2013 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No, not every one, but that type of mail restriction is usually given to inmates who have broken the institution rules or are high risk.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
August 29, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There's no privacy in Jail. A postcard seems good enough to me.

local (anonymous profile)
August 30, 2013 at 12:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hi Brandon,

Thanks for your story on the mail ban in the county jail. I noticed you included a correction that Kelly Hoover stated there is no limit on the size of postcards sent to inmates. I know this is the stated position of the jail, but I think it is incorrect to print this as fact. The jail administration has given contradictory information on this point for many months. The Sheriff stated in March that there would be no limit to postcards. After seeing dozens of postcards of varying sizes rejected, and information posted in the jail visitation area that stated that postcards would be limited to 3x5 inches, this was brought up again and the Sheriff told us this was "a mistake" and there would in fact be no size limit, he'd just miscommunicated this with his staff. However, postcards of many varying sizes are still being rejected and returned to sender with NO explanation as to why each postcard is rejected. There is no clear message on this. The confusion is perfectly demonstrated on the jail website, where the statement that "there is no size limit" co-exists on the same web page with a diagram explaining the postcard size limit (!). See for yourself:

The jail administration is making claims about their leniency but in practice these claims appear to be misleading, confusing, and deserving of deeper investigation than simply taking Kelly Hoover at her word.

This may seem like a minor issue, but in context, we're talking about people who have had their steady lifeline of letters from family drastically cut with no good justification. Letters serve an invaluable need: Reducing recidivism and strengthening our communities, while protecting the health and emotional well-being of incarcerated people.

Thank you for your work.

Wrench (anonymous profile)
August 30, 2013 at 11:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm definitely concerned at the discrepancy between the SB News Press coverage on this issue and the Independent. It used to be that I could trust the Independent to be the critical, investigative, and skeptical source. These days, I have seen the Independent take authorities at their word and not bother to even conduct investigative work, for instance, by interviewing those inside the jail. There is a massive story of corruption, mistreatment and inhumanity in Santa Barbara County Jail that has yet to be broken. A death in incarceration; early morning searches and spraying people with cold water; confining people in disgusting solitary confinement conditions; repression against organizing and peaceful protest. Inmates and their families are so far doing ALL of the work, spending our valuable time away from work to expose the details of these issues to the public, while reporters pick through our public comments to build stories. It won't be long before somebody in this town does the work to break open the real story.

Wrench (anonymous profile)
August 30, 2013 at 11:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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