November 20, 2023

The San Francisco Bay Area Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) and the County of Santa Clara today announced that the County reached a $90,000 settlement with Asia Aden, represented by CAIR-SFBA.  

In Oct. 2022, Aden, a Muslim woman, was booked into a county jail facility. As part of the booking process, Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office staff asked Aden to remove her hijab to conduct a pat search for safety purposes. The hijab was removed and returned when she was released from custody a few days later. 

The Sheriff’s Office and CAIR-SFBA are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on implementing a religious services policy that provides clear guidance to staff who are presented with the task of harmonizing important safety objectives, like the need to conduct a pat search or resolving potential mental health concerns, with an individual’s right to religious expression. The policy has already been implemented and staff have received training. 

Under the new policy, Aden would have been offered a pat search in private or outside the presence of men, as well as the opportunity to take a booking photograph wearing her hijab. Unless there were specific safety and security concerns, the new policy would have also allowed Aden to keep her hijab or receive a jail-issued religious covering during her custody stay. 

CAIR-SFBA Senior Civil Rights Attorney Jeffrey Wang stated, “We welcome the settlement as a step towards justice for Ms. Aden. We urge more municipalities to follow Santa Clara County’s example by reviewing and implementing policies to ensure everyone’s constitutional rights are protected, regardless of faith.”

Sheriff Robert Jonsen stated, “The Sheriff’s Office respects all religious faiths, and the Office is committed to ensuring safety and security within the jail facilities in a manner that is consistent with protecting the rights and religious expression of those in its custody.”