New Restrictions on Jail Mail

Thursday, March 7, 2013
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Inmates at the Santa Barbara County Jail will now only be able to receive postcards in the mail, according to a new policy being put in place by Sheriff Bill Brown. Brown said security, safety, and health considerations all went into the decision, and that it took a lot of staff resources to open and examine the voluminous mail sent to jail inmates. There are many instances of mail being used to convey narcotics, he said. There will be no limit on the number of postcards inmates can receive, and it only affects incoming personal mail, not outgoing mail or privileged incoming mail.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The officials in the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department should honor their commitment to preserving public safety by immediately canceling their plans to implement a postcard-only mail policy. A new Prison Policy Initiative report, "Return to Sender: Postcard-only Policies in Jail" (, finds that local jail bans on letters hinder reentry and increase the chances that people will commit more crime in the future. The Sheriff's Department should take this opportunity to call off a bad plan before it does real damage.

Lsakala (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 6 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Postcards only mail to prisoners is a danger to public safety? I'll have to think about that one for a while.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 7:10 a.m. (Suggest removal) is an organization promoting their "theories" and working towards policies inherently dangerous to society. As an example they promote limiting laws that keep convicted sexual predators away from our children. This organization fights for the predators rights. Consider the source.

Inmates still have access to phones every day all day and mandated minimum visitations per week. Not to mention 3 meals a day, free doctor visits on demand, free dental, free medications, recreational yard time, books, magazines, television, rehabilitation services, religious rights, ect...... but NOOOOO!!! Don't make them receive only postcards.

The same arguments were made against policies that stopped smoking in jails and prisons. Both are for the well being of staff and inmates.

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 8:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Using the argument that it's for the well-being of the staff and inmates, not sure if I buy that stance. Smoking is dangerous not only because of second-hand smoke, but it's also a fire hazard. Narcotics contained in a letter would be a very small quantity and most likely used in a different way.

This is obviously an attempt at reducing the work demands of the Sheriff's Department personnel. Now they won't need to pay someone to open inmates' letters. It saves money in their budget, which I like. Postcards are just fine in writing correspondence. Furthermore, it's cheaper to mail a postcard than a letter ($.33 vs $.46).

805bailbonds (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 9:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's just petty vindictiveness.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Citing the position of the PPI as proof is as wacky as believing child molesters who claim they were hanging out at the childrens playground because there was a drinking fountain.
I suspect the jail policy is a combination of things:
too much workload;
some petty vindictiveness;
not really giving a crap about most criminals that largely do not integrate back into society no matter what opportunities they have.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 11:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey, you know what they say,"if you don't like it, then don't come to jail."

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 1:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@ AZ2SB...Exactly!!! If ones perception is that new rules are simply petty vindictiveness then STAY OUT OF JAIL! Then you won't get your feelings hurt.

Any narcotics entering any facility becomes an engine for violence, thus making narcotics worse than tobacco. They're just cutting off one avenue.

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 3:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

70% of incarcerated people in California are waiting for trial and are in jail because they can't afford bail, and are innocent according to the law, and are mostly black and Latino, not because they commit more crimes, because they're arrested and convicted at a higher rate, and because they have public defenders rather than private lawyers.The number of people incarcerated is a county issue that is dependent on the county DA and county law enforcement, and is independent of crime rate. SB locks up 2.5 times as many people as counties with similar crime stats. DA Dudley imposes ridiculously high bail , which helps justify Sheriff Brown's obsession to build an additional jail. Texas and all the southern states and far-right-wingers like Newt Gingrich, also Obama and Jerry Brown, advocate alternative sentencing because this policy increases public safety - it reduces crime, is cheap relative to incarceration, and affordable, which incarceration isn't. Santa Barbara is one of the 4 counties in the state that were responsible for California prison realignment. The financial drain that Santa Barbara and 3 other counties put on the state by transferring prisoners to state prisons resulted in an enormous financial burden on the remaining 54 CA counties, who share the cost of state prisons, and their inequitable share of cost had a serious negative impact on services to their residents.Santa Barbara County's solution was to discontinue programs that serve the elderly, physically and mentally disabled and substitute them with PR/propaganda by elected officials, primarily on Noozhawk, federal programs mandated under federal law. The state's solution was to return prisoners to counties. Incarcerated people can buy drugs from jail staff. Drugs are endemic to jails. We haven't had any local news regarding this or the additional impacts of locking up wage-earners and destroying families because our media politically biased towards a police state and the recommendations of national experts on crime and sentencing would destroy Bill Brown's argument for an additional jail that we don't need and can't afford.
The article is about postcards in county jail, and I exploited the word jail to write an off-topic comment, you're right. Watch for the spin on it in the near future, do a search before it's online.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 6:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think your comments 14nos are right on topic and on the mark.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 6:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@ 14noscams..... You obviously have little to no internal knowledge of the real numbers and statistics in our local system. It's the judges that set the bail schedules every year, not the DA. You obviously haven't even compared bail schedules of Ventura and San Luis counties in regards to serious crimes. The only thing you exploited was your bias, uneducated as it is, on one side of this issue. Your assertion that inmates buy their drugs from deputies says it all.

As for Sheriff Brown's obsession with building a north county jail. That's been on the front burner for at least 30 years in this county and Brown has taken advantage of changes in the law and new state funding. It's only hard left philosophies that ignore the fact it's well over due.

Last but not least, as a law abiding citizen I'm comforted that DA Dudley and her deputies drop the hammer on criminals. Good job Dudley!

Don't believe all that research you did online. It makes you sound like an opinionated college student that hasn't lived in the real world yet. Facts and spin are two different things.

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 7:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Presumption of innocence in SB is a joke, and we all know it. Dudley's Devils are all about one thing and one thing only: winning at any cost. They win every ruling from the bench because every judge in this county is beholden to the DA for support at election time. If you don't think that Ochoa isn't bought-and-paid-for, then you don't think.
As for the jail: postcards are de rigeur in Ventura, and it's just another poke in the eye of those who can't make bail on the most minor of charges. The SB jail has far more serious problems, like no heat in the cells, like mildew dripping off the walls, like a medical staff straight out of a sit-com, where drugs are administered to the mentally ill by the handful, not properly dosed or administered, where inmates who complain about ANYthing are left in "safety cells", stripped naked and left in 4x4 boxes reeking with others' feces and urine until they "are better able to control themselves". Most inmates lose drastic percentages of body weight simply because the putrid diet they are served doesn't provide enough calories to maintain weight. Someone here referenced medical and dental care; they obviously know nothing about what really goes on in the jail. If you complain of a cavity or oral pain, you get a tooth pulled by a guy who admits to being a trained...veterinarian. If you're suffering from any serious internal condition, a nurse--hardly a doctor--shows up and gives you aspirin. Doesn't anyone wonder why so many inmates in SB die while in custody? It doesn't take a vicious beating by staff (although they're happy to provide one if you like). It only takes neglect. If you use more toilet paper than the D.A.-puppet Classification Officer deems appropriate, guess what? Use your hand. Books sent in from the outside are summarily and randomly sent back to Amazon and Barnes & Noble without explanation, simply because the jail staff either can't read or they suspect that Ram Das is a terrorist...or because it's easier to reject books than it is to deliver them to inmates. Why the Grand Jury doesn't actually have to power to DO something is the real issue, for there have been numerous reports of conditions in the SBCO Jail, all indicating that things are nothing less than draconian.
This all sounds like the stuff of fiction or the rantings of a nut, I'm sure. But get pulled over in a DUI stop by Kasi Beutel or Aaron Tudor and fail to give them their version of "respect", and you'll get a few days in jail to see for yourself.
Enjoy the ride.

Beachgirl77 (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 9:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

WOW Beachgirl77. How many times have you been locked up?

How come the public doesn't hear about all these deaths? Just your fantasies maybe?

Validated (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 12:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A huge number of people incarcerated in county are awaiting sentencing. Why are we depriving people who have not been convicted of a crime of letters from their friends and family?

The job of the sheriff and jail staff is to guarantee both the security of inmates AND their full rights to meaningful communication. Taking away mail rights in the name of security is disgusting. It means the Sheriff is failing in his duty.

"Vindicated", tell your boy Bill hi for me. You're not fooling anyone.

Wrench (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 12:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It truly is shameful.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 1:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 1:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I just signed it; thanks for the tip Ken.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 1:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

People can't communicate with their loved ones with post cards? I see no difference except you can write more on a letter than a post card. Send another post card if you want to write more. If the sheriff's dept. can save money this way, more power to them.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 4:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually, Validated, BeachGirl is actually correct about how "it is", and while there aren't concentration camp deaths, there are deaths that can be attributed to the healthcare in county lock up. I would agree that a death sentence for a petty crime, or a crime you have not been convicted of, is cruel and unusual punishment and does not fit the crime. Other than that, the inconveniences like t.p., high heat or cold, and postcards should be taken as "part of the game" when you "play and pay:"

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 6:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I was in SB county jail for 6mo. Twice my lawyer told the Judge that I needed to see a doctor because my foot would start to burn if I walked any distance. Twice it was ordered and nothing ever happened. After I was finally out I had a main artery clot in my leg and a 150,000.00 hospital stay. I was told it was too bad I didn't do something about it earlier. I did...but SB didn't. I can't sue because it's past 6 mo. Now my foot and leg are always numb and may have to have it amputated someday.

metosend2 (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 7:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

metosend2: That's horrible, and suing won't heal your leg. I hope it improves. If it's bad enough to make you unable to do normal, routine life activities, you're considered physically disabled, and physically and mentally disabled people can have the statute of limitations increased due to their medical problems. If you're physically disabled you're entitled to elder law protection against financial and physical (including neglect) and emotional abuse according to Titles l and ll of the Older Americans Act. SB County doesn't acknowledge the law other than for developmentally disabled people, around 3% of the population, but the OAA explicitly says physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled.
I had a friend who was a mobile X-ray tech who made monthly visits to SBCJ and was told to x-ray the same broken bone that hadn't been set for three months, and a neighbor who was a physician's assistant who was so appalled by the lack of medical treatment she asked me to come with her as a witness.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 9:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

14 - Your neighbor violated HIPAA by doing that. She could have her license pulled for that.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 5:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No, she gave me no personal information, including names, and had no intention to do so other than telling me her general concern about medical care at the jail. If a patient chose to, they could sign a release in my name and agree to allow me to be present when they were treated. I doubt that a medical professional whose personal ethics allowed them to violate a patient's privacy as well as HIPAA would have been concerned about providing needed medical care to people incarcerated in county jail.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 8:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Inmate Visiting Guidelines (includes mail protocols):
"The only restriction on content of written communication is that it may not contain anything that is a threat or potential threat to another (including discussion of a future criminal act, discussion of an escape, discussion of disrupting the security of the prison, coded messages, maps depicting the area in which the prison is located, gang-related comments or photographs, or photographs of nudity or sex.

These guidelines are for visitors and mail in prisons, not county jails, so they were written to apply to inmates convicted of serious crimes, rather than primarily un-sentenced inmates, around 70% of SBCJ population.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
July 17, 2013 at 7:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks for explaining why the inmates can't have real mail - I mean, ANYTHING could be coded so that the average airhead wouldn't know it's a threat.

Just look at the half wit that serves as the SBSO mouth piece - she barely understands plain English!

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2013 at 1:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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