RICHMOND (CBS SF) – The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that it has revoked clearances for 20 detention facility volunteers who allegedly violated rules of interacting with incarcerated individuals.

Following an investigation, sheriff’s officials said they determined that volunteers with the group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, or CIVIC, repeatedly violated multiple rules for an extended period of time while working at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.

While working with individuals in immigration detention, the volunteers allegedly provided personal phone numbers and addresses to detainees, relayed messages to family and friends of detainees, received phone calls and mail from detainees, sent contraband to detainees and deposited money into the accounts of detainees, sheriff’s officials said.

The alleged violations come despite the requirement that volunteers take a class covering safety guidelines, sign an agreement and are warned of the consequences of violations, according to sheriff’s officials.

The clearances were revoked on Monday. CIVIC volunteers can appeal the action, but have yet to do so, sheriff’s officials said.

There are currently more than 20 programs available to inmates and immigration detainees at the facility, many of which are run by volunteers from community-based organizations.

Sheriff’s officials said they are currently reviewing possible violations by other organizations.

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  1. I believe that the revocation of clearance has more to do with retaliation on the part of the Sheriff’s Department, then a violation of policy. The program in the detention center began in 2011 and the department was well aware that volunteers were there to support detainees and break the isolation of detainment by assisting with communications between family members. It seems to be more than coincidence that Sheriff Department personnel changed their position on the group when complaints from detainees reached the press which prompted investigations of the facility and treatment of immigrant detainees. This is the first time that the Sheriff’s Department reacted in retaliation. When the El Cerrito City Council went on record opposing the expansion of the West County Jail, the Sheriff yanked his contract for dispatch services with the city. According to Captain Butterfield, she agrees that the services provided by CIVIC are important. If that is true, then the Sheriff’s Department should reinstate CIVIC.