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Friday, March 8, 2013
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The plan for a postcard-only mail policy at Santa Barbara Jail should be canceled.

Officials in the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s department should immediately call off their plan to start banning family members from writing letters to loved ones in jail. Limiting incoming correspondence to postcards only jeopardizes the kinds of community ties that are essential for keeping everyone safe.

My report, released by the Prison Policy Initiative, “Return to Sender: Postcard-only Policies in Jail,” finds that local jail bans on letters impede the reentry process and increase the chances that people will reoffend in the future. Such policies also present a significant burden to the disproportionately low-income families of people in jail.

All major corrections professional associations know that the social science research is clear: Communication between people in jail and their families and communities should be encouraged, not stifled. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s national standards explicitly prohibit postcard-only mail restrictions in facilities holding detainees. Officials in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have also been clear opponents of draconian postcard-only mail policies, recognizing that such restrictions are both counterproductive and harmful.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department should honor their commitment to public safety by canceling its postcard-only policy before it goes into effect on Monday and does real damage.

Leah Sakala is a policy analyst with the Prison Policy Initiative.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Right on. Drop the mail ban!

Wrench (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 1:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Do not mistake anything from the PPI as proof. They are a criminal advocacy group. The report cited in the letter, and yes I read it, is a position piece without any scientific basis. On the other hand, this does not mean that they are incorrect either, just that they have a jaded opinion.

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

Communicaton can still easily occur with a postcard. I say the postcard only policy is fine and dandy if it saves taxpayers money.

Also, I strongly believe that incarcerated convicts should not be allowed to sue ANYBODY unless it relates directly to the reason they are currently incarcerated.

That's justice for the victims and for the taxpayers.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 7:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Meanwhile gangs thrive because of communication and visits from the outside world. Want to see gangs get crippled on the outside of prison, cut ALL ties. If someone gets 3 years, then nobody should be able to talk for three years to them, period. No more shot calling behind prison gates, drugs eliminated from prison, etc etc. Draconian you say? Yup... It's prison!!!

skaterspoint (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 7:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@skaterspoint - you want to stop gangs, but you want to limit incarcerated people's contact with the outside world so the only strong ties they can keep are with all the other people in jail?

And your concern is gangs, but you're happy to see all prisoners face harsh penalties, despite the large number of county jail inmates that are still awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime?

Even if you believe that people do not deserve letters from their families, don't the families still have rights to meaningful contact? Why further punish a child and deprive them of parental contact for the unrelated actions of their parent, who may or may not have even been convicted yet? Do you have any idea what the effect of incarceration is on families and how much reduced parental contact increases the chances of young people committing crimes themselves?

People who support this ban support it because they have dehumanized imprisoned people, and they have false beliefs about the efficacy of punishment and imprisonment.

Wrench (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 8:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"...don't the families still have rights to meaningful contact?"
Next question please,
I'll be standing by with answers...

I do not have any "false beliefs about the efficacy of punishment and imprisonment.". I do have the facts about rates of recidivism regardless of what opportunities are offered to thugs.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 10:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"...don't the families still have rights to meaningful contact?"

Possibly not, although prisoners should still retain the rights of contact, unless their visitation privileges are rescinded. That in itself is illustrative of what the difference is in what jail-time is supposed to be--it's meant to be for Rehabilitation, not Punishment. If everyone connected to the prison system (prisoners, guards, administration) respected that, then they might respect each other, and laws/rules such as those to impede communication would not be necessary. However, I understand that there are those people who are very much "bad eggs", and a quite possibly beyond rehabilitation, which may also explain recidivism rates and the like.

Unfortunately, I've got no real answers to the question of how to determine which felons are able to be rehabilitated and which can't, or won't.

equus_posteriori (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 11:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Seems like all of the solutions mean't to punish the prisoners and offenders only encourage more crime. Insuring no layoffs for lawenforcement but jepordizing safety for taxpaying citizens. Santa Barbara County Jail is actually worse than prison.

Byrd (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 10:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How do these solutions encourage crime? Is prison supposed to be a pleasant place to spend your days or a place that you never want to go back to?

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 10:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

italiansurg: Re criminal advocacy, were you referring to director Eric Lotke, President, Senior Research Analyst, SEIU Public Division's advocacy, or all directors.?

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 5:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Prison should be like military academy without weapons training. That includes receiving letters and books.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 5:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Wrench" must stand for "zing go the strings of my bleeding heart." (As in, "oy, what gut-WRENCHingly abysmal things are Republicans/Conservatives/Libertarians/non-elitists-with-above-average-intelligence doing to those poor pedophiles/gangbangers/rapists NOW?")
Because only people whose guts are wrenched---see: current make-up of the ACLU and/or any guiltily rich white person with too much time on his hands---for the wrong people would think the postcards-for-prisoners proposal a BAD thing.
Indeed, "Wrench's" heart bleeds for the MYTHICALLY*** "...large number of inmates that are still awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime."
***"MYTHICALLY" because FEW-to-ZERO people in this State are ever incarcerated for more than 48 hours without their having been all-but-fingered for committing a major, i.e., particularly heinous, crime. Either bail gets speedily posted or out---posthaste!---most drunks-and-disorderlies; ladies-of-the-night; barroom brawlers; trespassing skateboarders; et al., go---on their own recognizance. (Aside from the fact that he was accused of murdering two people, the only reason O.J./"person of interest" numero uno was incarcerated so long pre-trial was because he tried fleeing BEFORE the Man could accuse him of murdering two people---and because he had a passport, disguise and large sum of cash on his fleeing person, to boot. Methinks only the stupidest magistrate would've let Mr. Simpson post bail.)
So, for whose "rights" does "Wrench's" gut toll? The USPO X-rays MY mail, for Pete's sake...and no one's ever even ACCUSED me of pederasty, murder, hell, ANYTHING felonious. If a known gangbanger [or anyone else who's been in the pokey more than 48 hours] wants to pass notes, I say: Make 'em share 'em with the class.

MadamPrez (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 3:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.

MadamPrez:: DOJ stats; Santa Barbara County unsentenced prisoners: 2009 - SBC 75%, CA 69%, 2010 SBC 71%, CA 71%

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 7:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Whatever I said must've been good.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 7:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

More stats from link in previous post.
Incarceration/1000 felony arrests: 2009 SBC 736 CA 604
2010 SBC 701 CA 584
Jail population/100,000 residents 2009 SBC 347 CA 319

Crime rate/100,000 residents 2009 SBC 1571 CA 2078
2010 SBC 1571 CA 2078
Crime rate is for Part I crimes (aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, robbery, arson, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft) reported to police are shown for each county per 100,000 adults age 18-69
This site also has arrest rates, following the same pattern, and poverty rates - % of population living below poverty guidelines.
In both years, Santa Barbara County's poverty rate was higher than the state's, unchanged for 2009 and 2010. SBC 15%, CA 12%. The data can be downloaded.
If you can''t boggle em with brilliance, baffle em with BullS*** , as MadamPrez says.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 8:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Although I am not sure why you asked me about Lotke, some kind of non sequitar I guess, I'll answer anyway. I think he's a wacked out wing nut that writes absurd progressive crap blaming business for anything and everything. That being said, I am not against having criminal advocates or even nitwit gang apologists; I kinda' enjoy the market place of ideas. But do not substitute a position for proof, nor do your statistics serve as proof positive. To wit: it may very well be that WE DO have a larger percentage of folks in jail without being charged, we could also have a larger percentage of indigents per capita unable to make bail since you also cited we have a higher percentage of impoverished folks. So bums and illegal aliens cannot make bail I guess...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 13, 2013 at 6:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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