Mail policies by county- a graphic

Melissa made this map of California to look for overlaps between counties with alternative communication setups (primarily systems where you can e-mail inmates) and post-card only policies. It’s a work in progress, and if you have any more info about your county, leave a comment. Also…check out that county with no jail! How awesome would that be? Not really tho, ’cause they just ship them to the next county over. But we can dream.
Green : Open letter policy.
Red : Postcards only.
Yellow : No Jail.
Purple : Some restrictions.
Blue : Extra contact services.

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We need your help getting in touch with inmates!

We have some good news for once!

A U.S. District Court found the postcard-only policy in Ventura county to be unconstitutional, after Prison Legal News sued to reverse the policy.  You can read all about the ruling here.  The Ventura County Sheriff has 21 days from when this ruling was handed down to reverse the policy, and then 30 days to appeal.  As happy as I am that after four years, our neighbors will finally get their communication rights back, I’m even happier about what this means for us. I was so happy I ran out and got some celebratory Taco Bell, that’s how happy I was.  We’ve been up in front of the County Supervisors, the press, even the film festival saying that this policy was unconstitutional, and now we have some serious support for that statement.  

This means a big strategy change for us. We need to get in touch with current inmates who have been negatively affected by this policy who are willing to speak with lawyers about how it has made their lives harder.  If you know someone who would like to have their contact info passed onto our lawyer, email us at or leave us a voicemail at (971) 333-0948.

We also added a section to our website with the times and places of upcoming meetings, and we invited everyone to come.  Last meeting we had cupcakes, they were bomb.  

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No Letters Behind Bars-Short Documentary

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Right To Write goes to the SB International Film Festival


“No Letters Behind Bars,” the short documentary about the postcard-only policy, will be part of Youth CineMedia’s lineup at the SB International Film Festival. This year’s slot at the Lobero Theater in downtown Santa Barbara is on Sunday, February 9th, 11am-2pm. The event is free. This documentary, starring Right to Write lead organizer Marissa Garcia and made by YCM focuses on the effect of this policy on her relationship with her husband in the SB County Jail. “Having the opportunity to film at the Santa Barbara County Jail, and to share how this mail ban personally effects me was bittersweet. What’s important is that we are not forgotten,” said Marissa. Youth CineMedia is a formerly-Santa Barbara based media group that creates social justice-oriented short documentaries; they have a three-hour slot at the film festival to showcase both their new docs and a retrospective of the work they’ve done in the past 10 years.

We hope to see all of our supporters there! All of the documentaries look great (I’m really excited for “Hideous Hair” myself). You can see the line-up and get directions at their Facebook event page:


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Speak up! Report from the 6/18 County Supervisors Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended and spoke at the County Board of Supervisors meeting today. Special shout out to the UDW and the In Home Health Service workers in our county, we support your wage increase!

Today, speakers from the Right to Write campaign brought to light the harm already being imposed by the mail ban and called on concerned county residents to stand and speak against the ban. One speaker shared multiple letters from inmates describing the difficulties they face under the mail ban, including the heartbreaking testimony of an inmate whose son, due to health limitations, is unable to write in small writing and so cannot say more than a few words on the allowed post-cards. Another inmate’s writing revealed that the welfare packages recieved by some inmates do not include postcards and so cannot be used to communicate with other incarcerated loved ones.

After public comment, Sheriff Bill Brown pulled aside members of the Right to Write campaign and expressed that he was unaware of some of the hardships imposed by the ban and would work to address those specifically. He was reminded by Right to Write campaigners that his lack of awareness of these hardships is due to the fact that no public feedback was sought and no transparency was excercised in the formation and implementation of the mail ban, which was only revealed to the public through a small posted form in the visiting area of the jail a week before the ban was put in place. How could someone in power be aware of the problems caused by their policies if their policies are kept secret until immediately before they are implemented?

Sheriff Brown also expressed his continued opinion that the ban on letters is necessary to protect the security of inmates from contraband, despite the fact that thousands upon thousands of county jails across the United States have no such ban in place and are adequately able to deal with contraband through traditional mail-search practices.

Notably, when asked if they had any statistics at all about the effectiveness of the mail-ban on reducing contraband in the jail, both Sheriff Brown and the jail commander revealed that they are keeping no statistics and making no effort to ensure that their ban has any positive effect. They use security as a justification, but fail to do even the most basic information gathering to find out if their policy is even successful by their own standards.

The Sheriff also expressed frustration that this issue is continually raised without the campaigners meeting with him for private discussion. Campaigners stated that it is not our job to do the public relations work of the jail; it is not our job to gather data and to schedule public meetings, although it has become something we all have to do in addition to the responsibilities of work, school and family. Despite this, we will continue in our efforts, and look forward to joining members of the public, activist and endorsement organizations and political parties in a public hearing with the Sheriff on the mail ban in the near future.

Thank you for all of your efforts. As always, please share this campaign, and contact your public representatives to express your opposition to the mail ban.

For the Right to Write!

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Action Call, please repost!

Right to Write is going back to the County Supervisors meeting this Tuesday. At the first meeting we attended, Sheriff Brown promised the Board of Supervisors and the residents of SB County that there would be no limits on the size of postcards. Well, the limit is now being enforced. If Brown plans on chipping away at communication rights slowly, then we need to plan on stopping him quickly. You can prepare a statement, or you can give an inmate a voice by reading one of theirs. Meet us at 105 E Anapamu in SB on Tuesday at a little before 9 AM.

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Returned Poscard – Why is the jail banning this?

returned postcard 1

Sign and share our petition to oppose the mail ban, call the sheriff, call your county supervisors, organize an event or write a letter to the editor to oppose the ban:



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