A Good Story out of Santa Clara County Jails

I want to start the new year off by first hoping everyone enjoyed their holiday season. The second thing I would like to do here is to do something the sheriff doesn’t do…not that she doesn’t do it, actually, but she usually does it for all the wrong reasons on the rare occasions that she does.

We’ve heard the sheriff tell us, between blaming everyone but herself for all the failures, that there are many deputies working hard to do a the best job possible. I would like to add that not all mentally ill inmates are being treated in the manner we have heard so many stories about lately. But never does the sheriff provide examples, though there are plenty to choose from.

The Mercury News has rushed to interview any inmate that will tell their story of violence and abuse at the hands of our deputies, some stories with little to indicate their veracity beyond the person actually having spent time in the jail. A no-no for “legitimate” media sources. From what was explained to me by my source and what appears in the letter below, the Mercury News MAY be in custody of the below letter and had the opportunity to promote this as “a good story” out of the jails. If they were in receipt of the letter, then they specifically chose not to pursue at least one inmate’s willingness to tell a positive story that actually compliments deputies. I hope they never received the letter, but we’ll likely never know the truth either way.

Today the Mercury did run “A Good Story” about the jails, Elmwood specifically, where the most recent story about a deputy being violently assaulted came from. The story had nothing at all to do with the deputies, other than the throw away statement that “deputies were sensitive and helpful”.  (Note to my readers:  Can any of you please help me understand what happened after the event in the Mercury story regarding what I understand to be contraband?  Was staff forced into playing “bad Santa” or was potentially dangerous contraband allowed to stay in the hands of inmates?)

Let me be clear on this, I have not spoken to the deputies named in the letter below about the incident. I have not spoken to the author of the letter. I have been told by my source that the deputies they know involved do not feel they are “heroes” or that they went “above and beyond”; they feel they did their jobs, did what they were supposed to do. But they are frustrated at the picture being painted of everyone. While they may or may not take pride in the job they did that day, I would like to recognize them. While they may not have gone “above and beyond”, they certainly did their job with concern, compassion and empathy. They took those extra moments that we would hope everyone would do in their lives for someone in need.

It’s an unfortunate side effect of trying to fix things that it comes across always negative, sometimes it even feels to be directly opposite of what we are fighting for. It makes everyone in the office look bad. We want change, we want something better… we want something that looks more like these deputies. I don’t say that meaning that we don’t have a LOT of these deputies, because we do. We have them all over corrections and enforcement and they not only often go unrecognized (which when you’re just doing your job, is usually okay) but they get pushed to the back of the room. These are the people who the sheriff either ignores as a value to the organization, or if they push at all for improvements, shoves to the back of the room and makes every attempt to silence. Deputies like this will be passed over again and again for promotion in favor of people who have dogs alert for narcotics at their office door (a person the rumor mill has been saying is coming back as a contractor), or don’t have the sense to not chain smoke in the parking lot all day long while wearing a nicotine patch forcing personnel away from their jobs to respond to a preventable drug overdose by one of their supervisors (a person so reliable in the ability to find them in the parking lot smoking that they’ve been promoted to the top).

I am honored that the person who provided this to me gave me the opportunity to show that there is positive feedback and good people working in our jails despite the sheriff’s efforts to paint everyone with the same brush to protect herself from the public backlash of her poor efforts.

Anyway, without further ado, below is a 2-page letter written by an inmate who had a medical emergency and had nothing but kind words for those who were there when he needed them and felt in the current atmosphere weren’t being recognized for their efforts.

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Thank you for the great job, deputies! And to all the others not being recognized during this time for doing their job to the best of their ability, even adding that extra touch, thank you!  I trust at some point, we will have a leader that will incite the best in all of us, and that you will all be the examples that leader holds up to our public to prove