A measure that would have disallowed Santa Clara County Jail inmates from receiving incoming photos and mail has been nixed.
Representatives from the facility said the idea was first brought to the table as a means of reducing the amount of contraband being sent via the USPS. The smuggling of drugs and even weapons has become quite sophisticated, they said.
A number of jails throughout the state have modified their mail policy to postcard-only. The postcards must be written in pen or pencil and cannot contain any crayon markings or paintings. Some have said this is cruel, because it prevents children from sending drawings to their parents.
Others have said it’s necessary, because savvy drug senders have found ways to smuggle methamphetamine or black tar heroin underneath crayon wax. Some will try to sneak in bits and pieces of razor blades that can be used as weapons.
The Santa Clara County Jail has said that while they are still concerned about the problem, they don’t see a need to implement a no-mail policy in the immediate future.
Opponents of the measure say they are pleased with how things turn out. Cutting off this type of correspondence is cruel, they said, and it weakens the ties that inmates have with their families. Some have concerns that this could lead to an increase in recidivism rates.
Inmate advocate groups have said they met with jail officials, the sheriff’s department and other key decision makers. They feel this was a key factor in getting their point across.
Had the plan moved forward, incoming religious passages, anti-drug brochures, letters and photos would have no longer been allowed. At the current time, the Santa Clara County Jail receives about 200,000 pieces of incoming mail each year. Screening all of those items can be a tedious and time consuming task.
The community spoke out loudly in opposition, citing a post card only policy would have placed additional and unneeded strains on personal relationships. The masses should not be punished for the actions of a few, they said.
The jail has reportedly said they will continue to see if he can find some sort of compromise solution, because there is a need to keep drugs, gang messages and weapons from slipping into their facility through the US Postal Service.
Those exact plans have not yet been specified, and the deadline for their implementation hasn’t been announced.
For now, inmates at the Santa Clara County Jail are happy that things have remained at status quo.