We Stopped the Ban of Letters to Inmates!

Steeda of Sisters That Been There Showing the Letter Exchanges from inmates.

Steeda of Sisters That Been There Showing the letter exchanges from inmates.

Congratulations to the families and organizations of Santa Clara County! We successfully made our voices heard, and stopped the implementation of a jail policy which would have greatly restricted inmates from receiving letters, photos, and all of the other “lifelines” that connect those on the inside to their loved ones on the outside. The policy — called the Postcard Only Policy — was created originally by Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona, and has been spreading quickly to counties across the nation. We first heard the alarms of the policy being planned here in Santa Clara County after receiving calls from families, and receiving letters of concern from inmates. Our community of civil rights groups, families of the incarcerated, re-entry experts, faith-based communities all came together to express a collective repudiation of the policy (watch the powerful video). Jail administrators were open to meet with us, and we held an powerful gathering where families shared heart-felt testimonies of why letters are so vital for those on both sides of the jail walls. After a Summer of growing concern of the proposed policy, administrators announced at the August Public Safety meeting that they are dropping the policy! For more check out the San Jose Mercury News coverage, and the blog of the victory form our friends at the Prison Policy Institute who are fighting this ban nationally. Our hope is other counties may be inspired by the families of Santa Clara County and will fight back to beat the ban in their counties! (Special thanks to Sisters That Been There, San Jose NAACP, Coalition for Justice and Accountability, De-Bug families, ACJP, and everyone else who helped!)

For Those Behind The Walls, Letters Are Our Lifelines

There is currently a proposal to dramatically restrict inmates in the Santa Clara County jail system from receiving letters. Steeda McGruder, founder of Sisters That Been There, writes about the profound power of receiving letters while incarcerated, and shares correspondence from women currently behind the walls who write about the “life-saving” value of letters. Click image to read pieces on Silicon Valley De-Bug

(Steeda shows the many letters she received from women in the system who reach out to get support. They say letters are there “lifelines.”)