In May 2022, SJLF began a new partnership with Silicon Valley De-Bug to challenge a mail digitization policy in San Mateo County jails.
The policy requires family and friends of incarcerated people to send all paper mail and photos to a Smart Communications facility in Florida, where the mail is screened and scanned into a digital system. Smart Communications then destroys the paper mail. Smart Communications creates a digital database of all mail scanned through their system, which law enforcement can search. The loved one in jail can only read this scanned digital version on an electronic tablet, that they can only access for a limited time.
In addition to posing grave privacy concerns, this policy is also an affront to the dignity of many incarcerated people, for whom keeping birthday cards, family photographs, or letters that carry the scent of a loved one’s perfume, is a crucial way to maintain closeness and connection with their support systems. On behalf of Silicon Valley De-Bug, SJLF submitted an extensive public records request to the county regarding their decision to contract with Smart Communications.
To read the full press release about our records request, click here.