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June 2015 - ISSUE 29
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Institutional Police Sgt.

T. Overall
27 years of service


Sr. Deputy P. Reed
20 years of service


Deputy J. Lucero

27 years of service



Contributing Writers


Will Sanchez-Roy

One Family


Annelise Wunderlich

& Richard O'Connell 

The Corridor Documentary


Vivian Imperiale


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© 2015
San Francisco
Sheriff's Department
Ross Mirkarimi
A Message from Sheriff  
Ross Mirkarimi

It has been a busy and productive spring! Only weeks ago we announced plans to outfit deputy sheriffs at County Jail #4 with on-body cameras, making ours the first jail system in the state to utilize the devices. Our pilot program will launch in the next few months and expands on our ongoing commitment to increase transparency and accountability within the Sheriff's Department. Stay tuned for more details on this important new initiative.


You know the expression about "idle hands?" The same can be said about "idle minds."  Education, creativity, music and family all contribute to a meaningful life for all of us, and carry a special poignancy for those in jail. It is well established that inmates who have the opportunity to learn both academics and skills while incarcerated have more opportunities when they leave. Similarly, inmates who can maintain family and community ties, have a much better chance of not returning. Jail is punishment, removal from society, but it can also be a time of self-improvement and self-reflection.
We are all extremely proud of the fine work that the Five Keys Charter High School has been doing for the last 12 years. The smiling faces of the graduates and their families are certainly the reward for staff's planning, teaching and hours of mentoring. But national recognition as an innovative program is the bonus prize for all who have contributed to the success of the Five Keys. This month, Steve Good, the Five Keys Charter School Executive Director and I joined the other finalists for the Kennedy School's Innovation in American Government Award at Harvard for presentations to the selection panel. Regardless of the how the competition turns out, it was exhilarating to share the time with so many other people tackling challenging problems in government.


Pounding the books is not the only way to learn math, three-dimensional relationships and patience. Our new sewing classes at County Jail #2 have been a big hit.  They began as an extension of a geometry course, but sewing uses the hands as much as the mind in measuring, cutting fabric into the needed forms and shaping useful items. Learning to operate a sewing machine is another skill, a possible tool for employment, but also a tool for creativity and self-sufficiency.


The healing power of music flowed as Naima Shalhoub performed in honor of Mother's Day, recording her debut album for the women in Jail #2. Ms. Shalhoub began bringing music to women in the jail last year, moving the women to rise, to sing original songs of freedom, healing and surviving. Underscoring her commitment to helping incarcerated women, Ms. Shalhoub will put half of the profits of her new album into programs supporting incarcerated women and reentry.
Last month, we welcomed Rabbi Jill Cozen-Harel into our Chaplaincy program, which serves our sworn and non-sworn staff with a "Ministry of Presence." The stresses of our jobs as peace officers and custodians of prisoners, serving public safety and reacting to public discord can take a toll. Our chaplaincy program is a valuable staff resource.  
In closing, let's honor and remember our veterans who travel to distant and difficult lands and give everything to protect our country. 


Honors - from Harvard! 


Sheriff Mirkarimi and Five Keys Executive Director Steve Good prepare to speak at Harvard Kennedy School in May.


The San Francisco Sheriff's Department (SFSD) has been named a finalist for the Harvard Kennedy School's prestigious Innovations in American Government Award. Selected for vanguarding innovative approaches that address some of government's most urgent challenges, SFSD's Five Keys Charter High School and four other finalists will compete for the award's coveted $100,000 grant.


Sheriff Mirkarimi and Five Keys Executive Director Steve Good travelled to Cambridge in May to give a live-streamed presentation before the award's selection committee as to why Five Keys should win. Watch their presentation here.


"This is a huge honor made possible by our visionary and hardworking staff who are pushing the envelope to meaningfully lower recidivism," said Sheriff Mirkarimi. "Historically, within the U.S. prison and jail systems, opportunities prove few in providing ex-offenders hope through a working skill. However, those times are changing, as evidenced by the durable reach of the SFSD's Five Keys Charter High School whose common sense approach to improving public safety is by not letting incarcerated minds decay."


Founded in 2003, Five Keys is the first public charter high school in the U.S. to operate in an adult detention facility. Infusing the five ideals of community, family, recovery, education and employment into its curriculum, Five Keys' growing impact reaches beyond the walls of its jail-embedded classrooms to 21 community centers throughout San Francisco and 13 in Los Angeles -- serving over 9,000 students annually.


Providing inmates with an education helps create safer communities, reduces tax dollars spent on incarceration, and affords the incarcerated with the skills they'll need to rejoin communities and their families upon release. Recidivism rates for inmates who go through the Five Keys program is 28% based on re-arrest for a new felony charge. (The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report shows that the total three-year recidivism rate for all felons released during fiscal year 2008-2009 is 61%, with nearly 50 percent of those inmates going back into jail or prison within the first six months after release.)


In May, Five Keys won the 2015 Pioneer Institute Better Government Competition and last year Five Keys was awarded the Hart Vision Award for Charter School of the Year (Northern California). SFSD's Resolve to Stop the Violence Program won the Innovations in American Government Award in 2004.


The city treasurer's Kindergarten to College project is a second San Francisco-based program nominated for this year's Innovations in American Government Award. The program automatically enrolls every public school kindergartener in their own savings account.

The 2015 Innovations in American Government Award winner will be announced this summer.


Read news coverage of Five Key's Charter High School as the subject of a new documentary: With Doc, Mission Residents Go Inside High School In Jail (Mission Local).


Body Cameras Coming Soon to County Jails


SFSD will be the first county jail system in the state to utilize on-body cameras.

On April 30, Sheriff Mirkarimi and our SFSD staff displayed to members of the press one of the body cameras being considered for the department's new and uniquely groundbreaking body camera pilot program. "There is no other jail system in California with body cameras," said the Sheriff. "I believe this will be the wave of the future."


Implementing on-body cameras in adult detention    facilities is a first-of-its-kind decision in California and expands on the department's ongoing work to increase transparency and accountability. Thirty body cameras will be worn by deputy sheriffs on all shifts at County Jail #4. The Sheriff pieced together funds for the pilot from the department's Materials and Supplies Budget after requesting and not receiving funds from the city budget for the devices in 2013 and 2014. The department is planning to implement the program in several months.


Because the body camera pilot is the first of its kind in the state, the SFSD has assumed an important leadership role in creating protocols and polices from scratch that will govern the use of the devicies, including rules governing application and use, privacy rights, ramifications for failure to adhere, data storage, personnel training, and public records requests.


"People under our lock and key deserve respect and humane treatment or else we risk fueling the criminality we strive to abate," stated the Sheriff. "I don't believe body cameras alone satisfy the greater call unless they are accompanied with modernized training, policy reforms that dissuade misconduct, and the political will to correct abuse of power."


The devices will ensure that interactions between deputy sheriffs and inmates are recorded, better ensuring the safety of inmates and protecting deputies against unfounded allegations.


Watch news coverage of our new body camera pilot program: 

The Corridor


The Corridor follows one semester inside Five Keys Charter High School.

The Corridor is a feature- length documentary in production that portrays an innovative experiment: the nation's first high school custom-built inside an adult jail. The film follows one semester inside Five Keys Charter High School in San Francisco County Jail, observing students, teachers, and deputy sheriffs prepare for graduation day, as they navigate a new paradigm of criminal justice that's based on the human potential for change. The Corridor explores the shifting boundaries between punishment and rehabilitation at a time when California -- and the nation -- is questioning what justice really means. The film is directed by Bay Area filmmakers Annelise Wunderlich and Richard O'Connell.


You can see the trailer here.

Watch news coverage of Five Keys and The Corridor: Documentary Captures How A High School in San Francisco Jail Heals and Reduces Recidivism--Video  (Social Justice Solutions).


A Stitch in Time


On Monday, May 11, Sheriff Mirkarimi participated in the last of a six-week pilot class teaching basic sewing skills to women serving time at County Jail #2. The sewing classes, which met for two hours each Monday from April 6 through May 11, were part of a geometry course taught in the jail. In the class, student inmates applied mathematical concepts related to shape and area while sewing re-usable tote bags using donated discarded table cloths from local hotels.


A student discusses the complexities of sewing a tote bag during the last day of a new sewing class at CJ#2.


The sewing pilot is the fruition of a collaboration between Sheriff Mirkarimi and San Francisco State University instructors Connie Ulasewicz and Gail Baugh. The trio were inspired by the success of a 2006 citywide plastic bag ban, legislated by the Sheriff while he represented District Five on the Board of Supervisors, and were looking for ways to further reduce the city's landfill (discarded textiles comprise 4% of San Francisco's solid waste). Aida McCray, program coordinator for the Sheriff's Department's Women's Resource Center (WRC), was instrumental in launching the sewing pilot at the WRC.


During the May 11th class, under Ms. Baugh's tutelage, the Sheriff learned how to sew a tote bag strap. The fourteen student inmates were working on completing their tote bag projects which they'll be able to take with them when they leave the jail. Many of the inmates completed several tote bags during the six-week course and some even asked family members to help them purchase their own sewing machines to use when they are released. The inmates are strongly encouraged to utilize the WRC to complete unfinished sewing projects or to begin new ones once they leave the jail (including mending, repairing and creating clothing). Sewing classes are held Friday afternoons at the WRC, located at 930 Bryant Street, and are open to members of the public who identify as women/LGBTQ.


The sewing project pilot study will be reviewed and assessed in coming weeks to determine whether and when future sewing classes will be offered at the jail.


Read news coverage of our sewing pilot: Female Inmates in S.F. Sewing a Way Out (SF Chronicle). 


LIVE! From CJ#2


Naima Shalhoub recorded and performed her debut album at CJ#2.

In an event reminiscent of Johnny Cash's 1968 live album performance at Folsom State Prison, in May, accomplished Bay Area singer and performer Naima Shalhoub recorded and performed her debut album Borderlands live in concert for the incarcerated women at County Jail #2.


In this special performance, timed to honor Mother's Day, Ms. Shalhoub extended a gift of music to the inmates at County Jail #2 that she began one year ago; the singer has been facilitating music sessions with a group of incarcerated women at the jail since May of 2014. Her rapport with her audience and her finely honed singing talent paid off - the women were greatly moved by her performance, often rising to their feet to move, sing and even shout along with the music.


"Naima sings from her heart for the poor, the incarcerated and the oppressed," said Sheriff Mirkarimi, adding "we all could use another Johnny Cash, and Naima Shalhoub is stepping up."

A first-generation Lebanese American, with a master's degree in Postcolonial and Cultural Anthropology, Ms. Shalhoub's Bay Area performance venues have included Yoshi's, The Great American Music Hall and the New Parish. Rhodessa Jones, founder of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, contributed the performance's opening ritual and Naima was joined on stage by Isaac Ho (keys), Tarik Kazaleh (guitar, oud, tabla), Aaron Kierbel (drum kit, percussion), and Marcus Shelby (bass).


Songs on the album are mainly originals with the themes of freedom, healing and resiliency, with a few re-arranged covers including a civil rights folk song, an Arabic folk song, and a Billie Holiday cover. Fifty percent of the profits from Borderlands will be given to social programming and re-entry programs to support incarcerated women.


Read news coverage of Naima Shalhoub's LIVE CJ#2 concert: Naima Shalhoub Records Debut Album Before an Audience of Incarcerated Mothers at County Jail (SF Weekly).


Welcome Chaplain Jill Cozen-Harel


Chaplain Jill Cozel-Harel is the first Rabbi to join SFSD's Chaplaincy Program.

In April, the Sheriff's Chaplaincy Program welcomed Rabbi Jill Cozen-Harel into its ranks. Chaplain Cozen-Harel is the first Rabbi to join the chaplaincy, which is a volunteer program offering a Ministry of Presence to all sworn and non-sworn personnel at the SFSD. "I am very excited to be a part of the Sheriff's Department and look forward to offering spiritual and emotional support to the team," said the chaplain upon her welcome.


Chaplain Cozen-Harel, who was raised in Los Angeles and San Diego (and who as a child had a goose as a pet) was ordained at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. She also studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative Yeshiva, and the Shalom Hartman Institute. Chaplain Cozen-Harel holds a Master's Degree as well as a BA in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley (and enjoys integrating that into her rabbinic and pastoral work). She has served both schools and congregations, has spent several years as a chaplain at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, and is part of the leadership of the Mission Minyan (a prayer community in the city). She currently works for UCSF.


Ever on-the-move, Chaplain Cozen-Harel has led trips to Israel, Ghana, and New Orleans. If all this wasn't enough, she has also run five half marathons -- but is quick to add that "those five halves do not equal a whole marathon!" It doesn't take much imagination to visualize this energetic woman of faith running a full marathon if she sets her mind to it. Welcome, Chaplain Cozen-Harel! 


Love Your Mother


On Saturday, May 9, One Family hosted a magnificent Mother's Day celebration in the education corridor of County Jail #2. Incarcerated mothers and their families were honored with quality time together, engaging activities, delicious food, and hospitable service. It would have been impossible to find a face that wasn't smiling in the room. Whether at the card-making station, board game station, nail-painting station, photo booth, or lounging in front of the television watching the latest version of Annie, each family seemed to experience the unifying freedom that breeds the mothers' motivation to continually strive to be better. Coupling that energy with comfort food like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and pupusas made for a room filled with love, compassion, gratitude and empathy.


One Family staff gets into the spirit at this year's Mother's Day celebration at CJ#2.
The highlight of the day was when each mother's  children courageously stood up in front of the whole group and used three words to describe their mother. The children were brilliantly descriptive, sweet, and appreciative. After each share, the audience responded with thunderous applause and eyes like rivers. The beauty of this event cannot be captured by words, but only by the feeling of freedom, loving family, and the willingness of each to grow as individuals.

7th Annual Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department SERT Challenge


Team SFSD took several prizes at this year's CoCo Sheriff's Dep't SERT Challenge!

At the 7th Annual Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department SERT ("Sheriff's Emergency Response Team") Challenge on May 22, the SFSD competed against nine other sheriff's departments in the areas of marksmanship, endurance and agility, and did our department and our county proud! Congratulations to Lt. Krol (first place, shotgun contest), Deputy Tabayoyon (first place, pistol contest) and Deputy K. Ng (second place in both the shotgun and pistol contests). The SFSD team also won second place in the team range run and third place in the obstacle course and "rat run." SFSD team members included Lt. Krol, Sr. Deputy Castellanos, Deputy M. Gonzales, Deputy Hughes, Deputy Camarra, Deputy Simms, Deputy K. Ng, Deputy Fernando, Deputy Tabayoyon, and Deputy Artificio. 

All in a Day's Work


Sr. Deputy V. Chew.
An attempted robbery was thwarted by a quick-acting Sr. Deputy V. Chew when he observed a subject fleeing and others giving chase several blocks from the scene of a robbery. The robbery, unbeknownst to Sr. Deputy Chew, originated outside the Civic Center headquarters of the Public Utilities Commission. Sr. Deputy Chew, who was driving in an unmarked vehicle, was able to catch up to and detain the subject. Kudos to Sr. Deputy Chew!  


And the Award Goes to...


The Sheriff's Department and Five Keys Charter High School have been named winner of the Pioneer Institute's Better Government Competition! The competition seeks out and rewards the most innovative public policy proposals.


Please see "Honors -- from Harvard," printed above, to read about Five Keys being named a finalist for Harvard Kennedy School's prestigious 2015 Innovations in American Government Award. 


SFSD Activities and Programs 


Rep's from CDCR, CA Dep't of Public Health, San Quentin, and other agencies toured SFSD's successful condom distribution program.

On May 1, Sheriff Mirkarimi hosted a group of esteemed guests, including rep-resentatives from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the California Medical Facility, the California Department of Public Health, San Quentin State Prison, and Mule Creek State Prison, who wanted to learn more about the successful deployment of SFSD's condom distribution program. Assembly Bill 999 (Bonta), as amended on March 21, 2013, requires that the CDCR develop a five year plan to incrementally extend the availability of condoms in all California prisons.


They began their visit with a meeting with the Sheriff at City Hall then embarked on a guided tour of County Jail #5 and -- the condom dispensary machines -- with Director of HIV Services, Kate Monico Klein and Chief Deputy of Custody Operations, Matthew Freeman. 


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