The County of Santa Clara

Commission Item

Receive report from the Commission on the Status of Women relating to Jail Monitoring Report.


Department:Commission on the Status of WomenSponsors:



There is no impact on the County General Fund as a result of receiving this report.


At the Public Safety and Justice Committee (PSJC) August 26, 2015 meeting (Item No. 4), the Commission on the Status of Women, Office of Women’s Policy and Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau gave a presentation of the first Women’s Jail Monitor Report including findings and recommendations prepared by the Commission. The Commission was asked to provide a six-month follow up on efforts to address the needs of incarcerated women. This report, approved by the Commission on May 9, 2016, summarizes the work that has happened since August 26, 2015.


The recommended action will have a positive impact on children that have incarcerated mothers. Local data indicates that 78 percent of incarcerated women are mothers, most of whom are custodial parents (Breaking Cycles, 2008).


The recommended action will have a positive impact on seniors who are incarcerated and/or have family members that are incarcerated.


This report highlights an effort that is consistent with the County’s sustainability goals of promoting equity and efficient/effective programs and systems that better serve female offenders and improve their outcomes.


Following the presentation to PSJC in August 2015, the Commission, Office of Women’s Policy (OWP) and the Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau worked on ways to address the needs of inmates identified by the Commission. There has been significant progress in addressing the issues as well as continued concerns:

Gender-Responsive, Trauma-Informed Training for Staff. Perhaps the most significant achievement has been the initial training on gender-responsive theory and trauma-informed jails that was given to all custody staff who work with female inmates. The trainings were developed and presented by OWP staff and national experts Dr. Barbara Bloom and Gabriella Grant. The trainings were presented during ten two-hour sessions to all custody staff including front line workers, supervisors, and classification staff for female inmates. Jail monitors also received the training. OWP covered training costs and the Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau covered overtime costs so that staff could receive the training.

One hundred and forty eight (148) people attended both trainings. This training was well received by staff and evaluations revealed a significant increase in awareness of the ways that a gender lens matters in the criminal justice system and how a trauma-informed approach makes staff and inmates safer. While evaluations were anonymous, it is important to note that twenty (20) custody staff members provided contact information so that they can be included in a Gender Responsive Custody Staff Cohort which will help develop next steps with OWP on training and to work on a system-wide strategic plan to implement gender responsive and trauma-informed protocols in the facility.

Senior staff including the Sheriff also participated in a training for administrators and managers with Dr. Stephanie Covington to develop a county-wide strategic plan for justice involved women and girls by January 2016.

Programs Success. Since the presentation to PSJC in August 2015, the Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau has supported women’s vocational training that has resulted in a number of noteworthy achievements, including:

In November 2015, we had the first graduation of a pilot of a meditation program. The mediation class was well received in general, but the greater significance was the successful mixing of inmate populations. Students included general, medium, and maximum security levels as well as women in protective custody. There were no negative incidents based on their interactions. As a result of this success, several of the women were down-classed. The weekly meditation program is ongoing.

The Sustainability Program continues to work with both female and male students, and staff have allowed these students to work side-by-side in a turf conversion project. These men and women replaced 30,000 square feet of lawn area with drought resistant landscaping and converted the watering system with one that now uses recycled water. The Office of the Sheriff received a $50,000 rebate from the State for the implementation of these changes that were achieved by this work. This money has been earmarked for sustainability projects on the women’s side of Elmwood and has allowed for the launch of the Women’s Healing Garden. This Healing Garden is being designed by the women in the Sustainability Program and is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

On February 6, 2016, Jasper Ridge Farm brought some service dogs in training for a visit with special management inmates in W4A, which was extremely successful. The three hour visit was positive for both staff and inmates, but at a cost of $1000 per visit it is not sustainable at this time.

These examples highlight the positive outcomes that result when a gender lens is applied to programming. Moving toward more evidence based, gender-responsive programming is highly supported by monitors and feedback from inmates and observations reflects that this type of approach creates a calmer, safer environment for all staff and inmates.

Monitoring Advancements. Since the August 2015 report the jail monitoring committee of the Commission has continued monthly monitoring at Elmwood. Focus groups have been conducted with women who have been incarcerated at Elmwood and are now in post-custody support groups. Focus groups have also included formerly incarcerated homeless women. Several in-custody focus groups are scheduled including one on April 22 with Asian Pacific-Islander women.

Monitors discussions with inmates revealed the need for journals for women in W4B classes and the Office of Women’s Policy funded the journals. Additionally, copies of the jail monitor reports have been provided to some of the pods so that the inmates can read more about this initiative and why we are monitoring.

In order to become a jail monitor, it is required that an individual complete a mandatory training provided by the OWP and the Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau. Three jail monitor trainings have been completed since August 2015 and a fourth has been scheduled for April 8. This training should increase the total number of active monitors from 12 to 25. Jail monitors include commissioners and community members and all have been trained in the gender-responsive and trauma-informed theories that guide the strategy and goals of the program.

Lingering Concerns – Continued Training. While monitors laud the fact that there has been an initial training on gender-responsive and trauma informed theories with custody staff, we truly believe that this one-time training will not shift the entrenched paradigms that currently guide operations at Elmwood.  We would like to see ongoing training of custody staff and are working so that Phase 2 of training with Gabriella Grant, on how to implement trauma-informed strategies, is scheduled to begin in April and May. This phase of training will likely continue throughout the summer. We hope to have more to report on the progress of staff training, and about the outcomes achieved by the self-identified staff cohort that will be working to create a more gender responsive jail, in our next report to PSJC. Furthermore, we have called for this gender-responsive training to be given to all staff, not just to those who currently work with women and not just to custody staff. Creating a gender responsive system requires that everyone who has contact with female inmates receive this training. This includes contracted services, medical staff, and facility staff. This kind of training should be given to custody staff starting at the academy. 

Concerns – Hazardous Waste. Most issues or concerns that surface during monitoring are handled in a systematic way to ensure that we get the full context surrounding the issue or concern and so that we can explore various ways to address the issue or concern. Occasionally, monitors will identify an urgent issue that cannot wait to be handled through this process or through detailing recommendations in the annual jail monitoring report. Recently, we were alerted to such an issue when monitors were told by inmates that they were cleaning the bodily fluids of other inmates who were experiencing diarrhea or vomiting as a result of detoxing in the pods and unable to get to the bathroom. Inmates reported separately to multiple monitors that they feel forced to clean these fluids in their common areas if they want them to be cleaned in a timely manner. Worse yet, they reported that they were not being provided with necessary safety equipment like gloves. Monitors expressed concern for the health and safety of both the detoxing inmates (as this process could take 3 – 10 days) and for the other women who are housed with them.

Further investigation revealed that it is against policy for anyone to be forced to clean up what are essentially bio-hazardous materials, and yet inmates are still doing the cleaning and being exposed to these materials. This is especially concerning given the rates of HIV and other diseases reported in incarcerated populations. Staff shared that the policy for disposal of this waste is to call a hazardous material team to clean up the area since there is no differential currently in place for custody staff and it is outside their scope of work to do this cleaning themselves. Staff further showed us that there are multiple boxes of latex gloves available at the officers’ station. Monitors are still very concerned because there is usually an extremely long wait for service once a call is placed to the hazardous materials team (the wait is typically estimated at five hours) and because of the high cost of this service every time it is needed. 

In order to more effectively address this great issue, posters are being developed by OWP that highlight the policy and include information about the risk involved in cleaning hazardous materials. The posters will also point out that there are free gloves available for individuals if they choose to clean while they wait for the hazardous materials cleaning staff to arrive. The Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau has also added this information to the inmate handbook. We are also in the process of developing a pilot of a women’s certification program in hazardous materials cleanup so that inmates can train to be a part of a “haz-mat team” that is on call within the facility. This, of course, is both beneficial for the women inmates who will receive important specialized training and the opportunity to earn certification in various safety fields.

Concerns – Classification and Data Collection. This is a time of thoughtful assessment for the whole jail system and much of it has revolved around issues on the men’s side. We are concerned that applying something to the women that was designed specifically for the men will not result in the same outcomes for women. Monitors are concerned that major decisions around data collection and classification are being decided but the Commission has not been invited by decision makers to give input or insight into the process. Although the call for a classification system validated by gender has been documented as early as 2008, and most recently in our August 2015 report, we are unsure if this is being considered as proposals for a new system are being considered. This is also true of the CJIC data collection system that is currently being replaced. Monitors are not at the table for discussions on critical elements and do not believe that a gender lens is being applied in these decision making processes. 

Concerns – Medical Needs. As we continue our jail monitoring, it is clear that different departments have jurisdiction over some of the health issues that inmates face. We hope to work more closely with the Custody Health department in the next few months to see how to best address these important issues. 

Concerns – Continued MOU. We are in the process of reviewing and extending the MOU between the Commission on the Status of Women, the Office of the Sheriff/Custody Bureau and the Office of Women’s Policy. The initial MOU expires in September 2016. The Commission would like to make some minor changes to the MOU and have the new three year agreement in place, ideally, by July 1, 2016.

Finally, we supported OWP in its proposal to host the 17th Bi-Annual Association for Justice-Involved Females and Organizations National Conference and are proud that the County of Santa Clara was selected to host in 2017. As the only national conference on both justice involved women and justice involved girls this will be an incredible opportunity to shape the national dialogue and highlight the very important efforts underway locally.


The report will not be received.


The Clerk of the Board will forward the report to the full Board of Supervisors for consideration.

Meeting History

May 25, 2016 2:00 PM Video Public Safety and Justice Committee Regular Meeting


May 25, 2016 2:00 PMPublic Safety and Justice CommitteeRegular Meeting


2:36 PMItem number 5, thank you very much, we'll switch presenters, we'll move on to item number 6 which is to receive a report from the commission on the status of women relating to jail monitoring report. Okay. Our chair guadalupe, welcome.
2:37 PMAm I on?
No, not yet. tlfrjts we are.
Thank you so much for having us, supervisors and others on this committee, as mentioned, we are from the commission on the status of women, my name is guadalupe rodriquez and i'm the current chair of the commission on the status of women and again, really excited to be here to discuss -- to give you an update on a mid year report update on the report that we submitted last august to this committee and to the entire board related to the work that we've been doing as a commission on jail monitoring in collaboration with the office of the sheriff. I'm here with my colleagues on the commission, shand ra lopez brooks and shawn frank [inaudible] w e we're here with lieutenant etheridge from the department of corrections who will also speak, and so before we get started on the report back, I would love to take the opportunity to thank sheriff laurie smith for your continued collaboration with us and the office of the sheriff in general for your support of all of the work that we're doing and also your commitment to supporting the incorporation of the recommendations that we have put forth. We are very heartened to see that letter and again very heartened to be able to do this work and great collaboration. I would also like to thank some of our jail monitors who work here today. To date, we have over 20 monitors who have been trained to be part of this program, and we have a few sitting here in the audience to take some time out to come and support this effort. Without further adieu, i'll launch into this report, so as we noted in august in that first report that we provided, this collaboration that we have is a very unique one, a unique partnership on the status of women, [inaudible] there isn't a collaboration like that in any other part of the country, so this work is very ground break, we believe we're doing very important work and just as a background of some of what we're doing, the volunteers who are part of this monitoring program rm trained on gender responsive theory and strategies and our observations focus groups and review of processes and data provide a vital gender lens no all of this analysis and that goes part of what goes into the report that is we provide. Our goal is work in partnership with the department of correction and policy to move to a gender responsive trauma inferred and recovery oriented systems analysis, with this emphasis of ensuring that the unique needs of women are taken into account in the system that they're a part of when they're incarcerated. Since our initial report last august, we have continued to work with staff at elmwood and do focus groups monthly, the observation has been monthly but the focus groups have not, we have set up different dem ragpicker groups in the facility and have conducted post custody focus group, at the request of the sheriff, we were ourselves a focus group of the national institute of corrections federal investigation, we provided information abour work. We've presented on our efforts at a statewide conference in sacramento with other commission on the status of women and we provided technical assistance to individuals along the west coast and again other jurisdictions who are interested in replicate hating we're doing here in this county, so the word is getting out about this work. We've been selected to host the national justice of [inaudible] shape the national dialogue on this issue for women offenders and for other who is are working on this field, so in today's presentation, i'll highlight a bit of our current work and my colleagues on the commission will finish off with more specifics with updates. So, I just want to bring back a little bit about what we talked about at the initial presentation when we first presented our report about some of the important findings in that report, and i'm happy to report that as the county continues to response to crisis circumstances happening in our jail system, we've continued to work with custody staff to respond to some of the needs that we highlighted and also needs that were brought up in a previous report that we worked on which is the 2008 breaking cycles rebuilding lives report which showed that a lot of the issue that is were found then were sort of highlighted again in our report in 2015 but again we're happy to report that some of that has been addressed. One of the outcomes of the work that we've been doing that we can report on is the implementation of staff training on gender responsive and trauma informed strategies to improve the management of and services and programming for women in the jail. We contracted with brash ra bloom and [inaudible] grant, both of whom are recognized experts in gender and trauma informed training and work and they have provided training to 148 custody staff who work directly with women. The training was funded through the office of women's policy and was very well received overall, and evaluations that we received, it's important to note we had 20 custody staff members who after the training provided contact information that they could be included in a gender responsive custody staff cohort, which will help develop the next step widths the office of women's policy and the commission on the status of women on continued training, implementing the training into the -- not only just with custody staff but hopefully within the academy and with recruits into the academy and to work on a systemwide strategic wide plan to implement this training and informing protocols for the implementation of this kind of gender responsive work within the facilities. And, again, I want to thank sheriff smith for her stated commitment to continuing this training and for the additional four hours of gender responsive train hating we would like to have custodial staff take part in, and I also want to end my part to say we're heartened to hear the continued concern about classification and the effect that has on inmates' abilities to receive programming, that was the most important findings of our report and we're looking forward to being a part of conversations about the new classification system and supporting and with our observations with the work we've done, the way -- the movement forward on that to be better responsive to the needs of women and again with the consideration at the lofts on that on their able to receive programming which is a big part of our concern. Inger now I would like the cede the floor to vice chasing ner or commission vice chair, excuse me, shand ra lopez brooks who will talk more about highlights and recommendations.
2:44 PMThank you, great, good afternoon, committee, i'm happy to be here, like she said, i'm shand ra lopez brooks, i'm the vice chair and co-chair of our crime and violence committee, which is the committee that oversees the jail monitoring program. One of the many reasons that our jail monitoring program is important because it allows us for examination of any gap between policy and practice. I'm going to highlight one of our recent findings to illustrate why it's important for us to continue this monitoring into the future. Most issues are concerns that surface during the monitoring are handled in a systemic way to ensure we get the full context around the issue or concern so we can explore various ways to address the issue or concern. Occasionally, uponbacker monitors will identify an urgent -- thank you, can you do that for me, thank you. I can't do two things at once, will identify an urgent issue that -- sorry about that, that will be handled through the process or detail in the recommendations and the annual jail monitoring report, so recently, we were alerted to search an issue when monitors were told by inmate that is they were cleaning bodily fluids of other inmates who were experiencing diarrhea or vomiting as a result of a detox in the bods and not able to get to the bathroom on time, the inmates reported separately to multiple monitor that is they felt forced to clean these fluids in their common areas if they want them to be cleaned in a timely manner. They reported they were not being provided with the necessary safety equipment like gloves, monitors expressed concern for the health and safety of both the detox inmates which is a process that can last from 3-5 day and is the others that were housed with them as well as staff, mon toser raised these concerns about the risk of transmitting diseases by coming into contact with bodily fluids and wondered if inmates were aware of this risk, gloves were available to the inmates, no inmate is required to clear up these bodily fluids, so ensure the inmates are not required to clean up these bodily fluids or anyone else's and if they do so, gloves are available, but there is a risk to handling bodily fluids, posters, I think we've come up to conclusion that posters will be put up in the facility and also this information will be placed in the inmate handbook moving forward. Staff also reported that this issue is a bigger problem for the women because women are more likely to help other women who are sick and vomiting and that this is not typical behavior observed by the men, staff further noted that per their procedures for cleanup of this nature, there is a company that is contracted to do hazardous cleanup but it sometimes takes hours for the team to arrive. However, it is expensive to bring in a haz mat team and it already takes hours for them to arrive. We are currently exploring the develop mment of a pilot, a women certification program in hazardous material program so inmates can be part of a haz mat team, this th has a longer term benefit who will have specialized training and the opportunity to earn certification in various safety fields which will provide additional opportunities for non-fra dishing fields with better pay once they exit the facility. So, at this time, I want to pass it over to our commissioner, shan tai frank o car so, n and she'll clothes close the presentation.
2:48 PMWe appreciate you listening to our report and having us here today, so i'm shai franco carson and i'm with crime violence and on the commission of the status of women and it's important to affirm like we did last august that our observations the nexus of many problem that is women in jails faced can be tracked in to the systems and policies that do not account for or culminate the different needs of incarcerated women. We believe that many issues observe through interactions and plenty of conversations, classification and programming can be changed by providing training, promoting policies that are gender responsive, recovery oriented and trauma informed, and addresses the issues and needs in the jail that often [inaudible] domestic violence, family reunification and economic sustainability. We continue to work on the recommendations on the screens as we highlighted in august, regarding the classifications,, we've been informed the classification system that is currently being reviewed will include a validation by gender and this is extremely important, regarding the medical needs, we are receiving presentations from your custody health which will continue next month with mental health and will continue with their presentation. Once we get a better understanding of the system operation, we can gentler address the needs that many women have reported. We expect the bigger part of the next report and for it to identify the issues that affect women because that's the request we're requesting. Regarding our mou, we entered in a three year mou and it's coming to lapse because this new territory for all partner, we are working on little tweak tos the mou to make it stronger for the next five year and is we appreciate the support of both you ladies, we see this important partnership as a means by which we can move forward more toward gender responsive, trauma informed community that better addresses the needs of justice involved women and girl, we expect the mou to be signed by the next report and back to you. So, here's another slide. We want to emphasize the commissioners, our monitors and we're all volunteers that we really emphasize planning and program for correctional systems and how you look at it is how will this decision impact women. It is often overlooked, questions, but one that should be applied to virtually every aspect of incarceration from booking to classification to programming and finally to exit planning. The question must be applied to even the most basic details, from uniform design to the number of feminine hygiene products women are offered while incarcerated, we need to be strategic in every step of service, delivery, we so we can address issues of violence and economic security which go to going rates of incarcerated women, we look forward today the continued update and is we hope the commission will be given an opportunity to play a bigger role, we continue to maintain we address the concerns of women and we respond to them. They benefit all the inmates. Now we can answer any questions -- do you want to answer some questions?
2:52 PMThank you, detective, do you have any comments you wanted to make?
Good afternoon, supervisors, I was just here to answer questions, I didn't have a speech, if you have any questions, i'm here.
Believe me, we don't mind that at all, if we saw more of that at our board meetings, that would be better. Supervisor yeager.
2:53 PMYes, thank you for all the work that you do and the volunteers that do this. I don't think we provide you enough resources or staff to the office of women's policy to be able to do, the fact that you do it on your own is appreciated. I think it was the previous slide with your recommendations, excellent, and maybe this is more of a general question because I could certainly go down and ask you a little bit more about all of those and I don't know if this is a question for sheriff or for doctor smith but as we're looking overall at the recommendations dealing with the jail and with the matrix that we've set you out, I didn't know if we would then be able to look at these type of issues at the same time, it seems like it would be a great opportunity to be doing that rather than let's say dealing it more with complaints or any number of issues that we know are prominent in the jails and I haven't looked at all 500 recommendations to know if there's some sort of crossing of these kind of issues but I didn't want these to get lost as we do the overall evaluation of our jails and just to know again if sheriff or Dr. Smith, you were sort of thinking in termer of being able to look at the recommendations that we have here today.
2:54 PMDuring this entire blue ribbon process and what we ao f been looking at, we have made some modifications at the women's jail, most of the recommendations and the 528 things with you'll be look at are more overbroad and not specifically related to women, but we're always looking at the women's issues, particularly in some of the things. I appreciate the commission on the status of women and thank you for thanking the sheriff's office, but we really need to thank lieutenant etheridge and her team for all the work you're doing a at the women's jail, so thank you.
2:55 PMAbsolutely.
Anything to add, Dr. Smith? I think I was looking for a more positive answer that these were going to be --
I'll be positive.
Incorporated if possible, but I understand what you're saying as well.
Well, the 450 recommendations plus the 4 consultant reports plus the reports from the office of human relations all involve these types of issues plus many, many more, so they -- these issues will be included in the report back, you know, recommendations from staff. Now, everything -- the board decided to send everything through fgoc, i'm not sure what will come back through fgoc, but staff will certainly take these recommendation into consideration and forward them to the board.
2:56 PMAnd I wasn't inferring that somehow these would get lost but I just wanted to make sure that they didn't. Also in one of the slides you had or maybe it was in the report, you talked about shall we say inadequate classes or training between the men and the women and I was wondering if you could really talk a little bit more about that.
Sure. so, one of the thing that is we highlighted in our report last year was the differences in just the content of programming that's offered to women versus men and you know, we have had discussions and conversations with lieutenant etheridge and detective [inaudible] of the space requirements and logistical accompany dashing and differences basically that exist between the men and the women and their ability to have access, but our concern is that is the programming that women are receiving -- will it have long term benefits for them in terms of finding a job once they leave the jail, you know, will programming in things that seem to us I think less luke creative and less practical like em provide ri, knitting or things like that, have a lasting kind of impact and support for them in the future whereas on the men's side, there is programming that's more trades programming that there can be more luke creative in the future for finding jobs and sort of more practical, so that's part of our concern, that the accessibility of that kind of programming change to be able to be provided to women as well, I think it's a matter of equity in our opinion and we understand the challenges and as they've been explained to us in providing that, but that's -- that's part of the concern. Er
2:58 PMIt saxons the training we do for the women is inadequate and something that we should be looking at and then my last question for you, sheriff, on the mou, I think in the letter -- and thank you for that letter talking about the recommendations, you mentioned that we have begun discussions regarding the updated mou and confident we can have a new three year agreement in place by July 1, is that still moving forward?
Yes, yes, it is, I had to look at melanie to be sure, but yes.
Great, thank you.
And I echo the thanks for that letter and suggestions and I wanted to acknowledge esther and carla, thank you so much for that staffer, I appreciate that. Judge, you're next, you have your light on.
I would also liexbacker like to add na the commission on the status of women, they should be commended and this is important work, I wanted to ask one question about the pilot program and I wanted to know if it had started yet?
2:59 PMIt's in development right now, yeah. . Inger so, in the meantime while it's being develop and had the cleanup has to be done by the inmates because there is no response within a few hours, do they have access to the materials that they need to do the cleanup?
Absolutely, but what we have -- what I have instructed staff is to no longer allow them to do it. Again, like we explained before, women are women, if they see someone in trouble, they'll good involver, as soon as they bring toit the attention of the deputy or he or she recognizes, it, we do call haz mat, but as July 1, we'll have a csa that's on staff, so we're hope witching the implementation of that, we'll be able to do more work with them.
But that time period is very short now, is that right?
3:00 PMUnfortunately it's contracted so it's up to them whi f whether they get there, all we can do is close off the area until they arrive, we don't allow inmates in that area.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you, I see no other lights on. Dr. Smith, your light is still on, do you have a question? No? That concludes item number 6 and item number 7.