A Letter to the Supervisors of Santa Clara County

submitted by Kathleen Flynn, Advocate for Families of Homicide and Victims of Violent Crime.
This letter was submitted by the author directly to each member of the Board of Supervisors as well as other community leaders.

Dear Honorable Board of Supervisors,

I feel compelled to tell you that I am deeply disappointed in what I read in the articles below:

Mercury News editorial: Santa Clara County’s secret jail probe undercuts citizen commission

Santa Clara County jail commission to consider disbanding

While I understand your need to protect the County from litigation, I find it deeply disturbing that Judge Cordell was not informed about this action before she and other Blue Ribbon Commissioners agreed to volunteer their valuable time to sit on this badly needed commission.

By omitting this vital information from Judge Cordell and her fellow Commissioners, I feel you have betrayed the very trust that I and the public have placed in you, and have violated the hopes we had in seeing the vital changes that are needed in our jails to take place.

The makeup of this Commission is also of concern to me. How can you properly investigate the jails without experts who know how to properly run the jails? Many experts in this area that I know applied to this Commission and were rejected! Without input from these experts proper changes will not and cannot occur.

Further, in my opinion, having Sheriff Smith on the Blue Ribbon Commission is a true conflict of interest. (Stripping her of a vote doesn’t negate the fact that she shouldn’t be on it!) The time for throwing Deputy’s and other staff members under the bus has come to an end. She needs to be held accountable for what has gone on in the jails under her watch before someone else escapes, dies, an admitted murderer is turned away trying to turn themselves in, or is given special treatment!

Also, the financial cuts that have been made to jail staff, training, and programs needs to be fully addressed as well, because these cuts have caused the death and mistreatment of inmates, AND staff shortages and the lack of proper training have put Officers at risk of injury and harm.

My hope is that the Honorable Judge Cordell and her fellow Commissioners agree to go forward with this Commission while holding the County, the Mental Health Department, and the Sheriff publicly accountable for the deplorable and unacceptable conditions for both inmates and staff in our jails.

I also hope that each and every one of you rethinks how you are treating Judge Cordell. She is a woman of integrity who is volunteering her time, and putting her reputation on the line to ensure that vital changes occur in the jails, so that no one else dies or is harmed in the jails.


Kathleen Flynn
Advocate for Families of Homicide and Victims of Violent Crime