Unprecedented collaboration and access to the Elmwood Correctional Facility has led to groundbreaking measures to improve the quality of care and outcomes of female inmates. The Jail Monitoring Program is a partnership between The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), The Office of Women’s Policy (OWP), The Office of the Sheriff and The Department of Corrections. “This unique partnership is unlike no other. We believe we are doing important work to better inform decision-makers on the issues for justice-involved women and girls,” said CSW Chair Guadalupe Rodriguez.
The goal is to move toward a more gender-responsive, trauma-informed, recovery-oriented systems analysis that is also culturally-relevant. The program incorporates the highly-regarded work of Dr. Barbara Bloom and Gabriella Grant, both of whom are nationally recognized experts in gender and trauma.
An often overlooked question in planning and programming for the correctional systems is, “How will this decision impact women?” Yet it is one that should be applied to virtually every aspect of incarceration: from booking, to classification, to programming and finally, to exit planning. This question must be applied to even the most basic details, from uniform design to the number of feminine hygiene products offered to women.
"In a time when the County is facing crisis in its jails, and amid a redesign, we need to be strategic in every aspect of service delivery so that we better address issues of violence, housing instability and economic insecurity which all contribute to the growing rates of incarcerated women," said OWP Program Manager Carla Collins. She and other Commissioners were featured on local talk show, Comunidad del Valle, with Damian Trujillo on NBC 11 in May 2016.
Many of their recommendations in their Jail Monitoring Report were first identified in OWP’s award-winning Breaking Cycles, Rebuilding Lives Report and have since earned the overwhelming support of County of Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith.
Volunteer jail monitors, who are trained on gender responsive theory and strategies, have continued to work with staff at Elmwood to do observations and focus groups with women and conducted several post-custody focus groups. Additionally, at the request of the Sheriff, they were a focus group for the National Institute of Corrections federal investigation. They also presented at a statewide conference in Sacramento and provided technical assistance to folks along the west coast interested in replicating the program. Most recently, they have been selected to host the only national conference for justice involved women and girls in the fall of 2017, which will very likely help shape the national dialogue on women offenders for those working in the field.
To learn more about the Jail Monitoring Program or to apply to be a jail monitor, download the application by clicking here or the link at the bottom of the page.