A spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Jail has confirmed the facility will implement a postcard-only policy for incoming mail. This is not the first jail to implement such a policy. San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara made the switch in recent years. Proponents of the plan say it makes jails safer. People on the outside have gotten quite crafty in terms of using books, magazines and letters in order to smuggle weapons and drugs to inmates. If inmate mail is restricted to postcards, this seems to resolve most of those issues. It also cuts down on the amount of man hours that are needed to screen incoming correspondence. This has the potential to save tens of thousands of dollars each year.
The switch was scheduled to go into effect on June 1. That date was pushed back a month after complaints from residents and community advocacy groups. These people feel it is unfair to punish inmates who do not break the rules. Jail officials say that reducing if not eliminating the amount of incoming contraband needs to be the greater focus.
One resident reportedly feels that it will ultimately cost them more money. Postcards are small, they said, and they would need to send multiple items in order to finish a single letter. Santa Clara County Jail officials fired back, saying the change is more about the safety of the staff than it is punishing the relatives of inmates. After the policy goes into effect Santa Clara will be the fifth county in the state to make the switch.