Lawsuit: Jail Official’s Conflict of Interest Undermines Santa Clara County Inmate Grievances

Inmates and their advocates call Santa Clara County’s jail grievance system unfair because of an official’s alleged conflict of interest.

Santa Clara County Looks to Texas with Jail Reform Plan

A local reform group has proposed a plan to divert people with serious mental illness out of Santa Clara County jails and into treatment.

County to Bolster ‘Implicit Bias’ Training for Sheriff’s Deputies

Taking a cue from similar national and statewide initiatives, the county may implement in-depth bias training for law enforcement.

County Calls for ‘Blue Ribbon’ Commission, Audit of Local Jails

Following the beating death of a mentally ill inmate, Santa Clara County leaders have called for a top-to-bottom investigation of local jails.

Report: Female Inmates Receive Limited Education Opportunities

Santa Clara County’s female inmates are too often prevented from signing up for vocational training, according to a new report.

Report Blasts County over Crime Victim Restitution

Countless crime victims are being cheated out of restitution money in Santa Clara County, according to a new Civil Grand Jury report.

Federal Ruling Slashes Cost of Out-of-State Inmate Phone Calls

A federal ruling will dramatically cut the cost of out-of-state phone calls for Santa Clara County inmates, making it actually cheaper to dial long distance than local. The Federal Communications Commission handed down a directive this month that drops the price for inmates calling to another state by 85 percent, though it’s been met with legal opposition from the phone companies that have a monopoly on jail and prison telecommunications. Global Tel-Link, the service provider for the 700 phones at both Elmwood Jail in Milpitas and the main jail in San Jose, is asking a judge to delay the ruling.

County Considers Offering Fairgrounds for San Jose Softball Complex

While San Jose considers where to build a bond measure-funded softball complex, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will discuss a plan to bring it rent-free to the fairgrounds. Also on the agenda: a discussion about contraband being smuggled in with jail laundry, Section 8 housing help and a work-study program for college students.

County Sheriff’s Office Scraps Proposal to Limit Jail Mail to Postcards

Santa Clara County inmates will continue receiving mail after jail officials abandoned a contentious plan to limit correspondence to just postcards. Jail chief John Hirokawa originally brought up the idea earlier this summer in hopes of limiting the amount of drugs smuggled in through envelopes or postage stamps. But the community put up a fight, saying the mail restriction could dry up prisoners’ ties with friends, family and life outside their cell. The county jail and Elmwood Correctional Facility receive about 200,000 pieces of mail a year. If the postcard-only policy passed, the county would have become the first in Northern California to enact such a ban and one of a few-dozen in the nation.

Community Activists Cite Civil Rights Concerns with Jail Mail Policy Changes

The sheriff’s office recently proposed limiting all mail sent to inmates to postcards instead of the envelope-enclosed letters currently allowed. Sorting through the 200,000 letters a year is tedious, jail officials say. Some of the letters are soaked, spliced or stamped with drugs: PCP, acid, meth and other contraband. Some contain needles. Some hide gang communications. The idea of switching to simply postcards—outside of inmates’ communications with their attorneys—would save money and time. But families and friends of inmates, as well as community activists, argue that the change would constitute a civil rights violation and endanger the rehabilitation of those incarcerated.