Inmate Programs

It is very important to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to implement effective and proactive programs that help our incarcerated population to reduce recidivism. These critical programs provide inmates’ opportunities to obtain the necessary skills that can help them become better members of our society. We provide programming in the following areas: cognitive behavioral, education/literacy, vocational, and activity-based programs. Below are the current inmate programs available to inmates:


  • Enneagram Prison Project (EPP)
  • Conflict Transformation & Anger Management (Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center)
  • Hope Inside for Women & Men(Service League)
  • Domestic Violence (Service League)
  • Parenting (Service League)
  • Relapse Prevention/Staying Sober

Enneagram Prison Project (EPP)
The EPP is dedicated to the self-awareness education of the incarcerated, using the Enneagram. The education process includes in-depth application of the Enneagram system and its methodologies combined with mindfulness meditation and sensate-awareness practices. The EPP curriculum is designed to support participants in taking one hundred percent responsibility for their thoughts and emotional reactivity, and ultimately, their outward behavior. The EPP practitioners teach an incisive psychological system called the Enneagram to inmates that helps them identify their repeating patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions that are most habitually deployed to express themselves and live their lives.  The Enneagram provides a very specific roadmap to recognizing the strategies that have unconsciously been used to survive and the ways these predictable strategies can potentially get acted out in both healthy as well as very unhealthy, sabotaging ways.

Conflict Transformation and Anger Management
Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (PCRC)
Skill development for individuals and groups through a combination of theory, discussion, and practice-based exercises rooted in conflict resolution and restorative practices based on cultural humility, self-awareness, empathy and healing harm. Practitioners employ interactive adult learning methodologies with a facilitative teaching style. Each session offers skill building, role playing, and sharing, and applying knowledge to situations in the unit and post-release.

Hope Inside for Women & Hope Inside for Men
The Service League
Hope Inside provides inmates with information and techniques to address anger management, addiction and other harmful behaviors and tools to increase self-sufficiency upon release.

Domestic Violence Class
The Service League

Parenting Classes
The Service League


  • Five Keys Schools & Programs
  • Stanford Prison Education Project (S-PEP)
  • Project READ Literacy Programs
  • San Mateo County Office of Education
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Five Keys Schools and Programs
Five Keys has been widely recognized for its successful education-based approaches to reducing recidivism and multi-generational incarceration. The Mission of Five Keys Schools and Programs is to provide adults and transitional age youth from economically isolated communities with opportunities to restart their education, with a focus on the ‘Five Keys’ of Education, Employment, Recovery, Family, and Community. Accredited teachers use evidence-based pedagogical practices and transformative approaches that integrate Restorative Justice principles into Five Keys’ programs, with the aim of repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior. Five Keys has created its own high school curriculum with content that is relevant and meaningful to incarcerated students and aligned with State Standards. The curriculum is age-appropriate for adults, as well as being trauma-informed, culturally competent, and respectful of the life experiences of system-involved students who come from diverse backgrounds. Accreditation: Five Keys is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Stanford Prison Education Project (S-PEP)
A team of graduate students from Stanford University will facilitate the Stanford Prison Education Project (S-PEP). The program’s aim will be to deliver high-quality educational experiences to the inmates at the San Mateo County Jails. The graduate students will teach classes and facilitate book groups for inmates. 

HiSet Tutoring and Preparation
The purpose of the SMCOE High School Equivalency/Inmate Education program is to assist incarcerated adults in obtaining a California High School Equivalency Certificate. SMCOE provides an initial interview to determine eligibility as well as provide an overview of the services offered an assessment to administer initial tests to determine the inmates’ reading level and readiness for HiSET testing, instruction to prepare for HiSET test, and testing to earn their High School Equivalency Certificate. The HiSET is one of three approved high school equivalency exam.

Project READ Literacy Programs

Peacemakers Alliance
Peacemakers Alliance is a critical literacy and peace education program designed to help incarcerated students improve literacy skills, teach students about nonviolence, and build students’ capacity for critical thinking and conflict resolution. It is grounded upon five pillars stemming from Brazilian educational theorist Paulo Freire’s assertion that education can be a way to raise critical consciousness among students and educators.

M.O.T.H.E.R.S / F.A.T.H.E.R.S. and Families
The M.O.T.H.E.R.S / F.A.T.H.E.R.S. and Families programs focus on positive, non-violent parenting skills through children’s literature.  The courses present models of parenting through group discussion of children’s books; thereby giving these parents a child’s perspective on family.  After eight weeks, the goal is for each inmate student to pick a book for his/her child, read it aloud on a CD, then send the book and CD home to his/her family. The children experience their parent reading stories and feel a connection with them as they listen to his/her voice reading a story.

The goal of this course is for inmates to develop the ability to use language in new ways. Each lesson is structured into three parts: (1) reading and discussion of poetry; (2) writing poems; (3) reading of the just penned poems.  For many inmates this is their first opportunity to learn how to express feelings and emotions in a constructive way.  At the end of the course each participant is given an anthology of poems, written by the members of the class.

Vocabulary Improvement
American Association of University Women (AAUW)


  • Job Readiness and Success Coaching (JobTrain)
  • T.A.I.L.S.: Transitioning Animals into Loving Situations (The Peninsula Humane Society & Sheriff’s Office)
  • Women’s Culinary Program (Sheriff’s Office)
  • Men’s Culinary Program (JobTrain)
  • Job Readiness and Success Coaching (JobTrain)
  • Vocational Programs at JobTrain (Culinary/Project Build)

Job Readiness and Success Coaching Program
The Work Readiness Program provides inmates the following activities: pre/post assessment of work readiness, career assessment, career aptitude, job search strategies, cover letters and resume writing, interviewing skills, and work attire and grooming. In addition, the Work Readiness Program offers basic computer literacy lessons, life skills, communication styles, conflict resolution, anger management, interpersonal skills, and work values/work maturity skills. The program includes both classroom-based instruction and 1:1 and small group coaching.

T.A.I.L.S. Program
Peninsula Humane Society
12 Airport Blvd. (View Map)
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 340-7022

The T.A.I.L.S. Program is a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the Peninsula Humane Society. Dogs with questionable adoption potential live with inmates who are responsible for their training, grooming, exercise and socialization. A volunteer certified trainer with the Peninsula Humane Society, teaches the inmates how to train the dogs in order to increase the adoption potential of these animals. The goal of the program is to ready the dogs for adoption, and teach the inmates responsibility. Visit

Culinary Program
JobTrain and the Sheriff’s Office
Students who participate in the Culinary Program in-custody or offsite at Job Train, learn and build upon their experience in food preparation, knife safety and techniques, food safety and sanitation, opening and closing a commercial kitchen, gourmet pizza making, soups, salads, catering, garnishing and presentation, how to sauté and grill. For the inmates and or former inmates who complete the offsite certification program, and express interest in the field have a variety of career opportunities to choose from that include but are not limited to restaurants, hotels, schools, and catering companies.

Project Build
This course offers an introduction to construction and environmental training for the eligible and interested Minimum Security Transitional Facility inmates. The eligible inmates are trained in basic general construction skills and HAZWOPER (hazardous waste removal, asbestos removal and lead removal). The inmate gains a strong foundation in construction, green building, and forklift instruction. The inmate and/or former inmate who graduate from the program begin careers as carpenters, ironworkers, electricians, plumbers, drywall workers, and other apprenticeships and laborers occupations.


  • Mindfulness-Based Meditation (Service League)
  • Yoga
  • Knitting (hats for Stanford Hospital oncology patients)