Grand Jury Investigates Death and Contraband in County Jail

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Source: Santa Barbara County Grand Jury


Pursuant to California Penal Code§ 919(b) the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury (Jury) is vested with express authority to examine into the “condition and management” of the prisons in the county. Included within the broad scope of this statutory power is the ability of the Jury, in the exercise of its to determine, how effectively the Sheriff’s Department is performing in preventing the introduction of “contraband” items into the jails.

Contraband can take many forms, ranging from knives, guns and other items which can be “weaponized” (like wood or metal objects), to cellular phones, currency, cigarette lighters, matches, tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Accordingly, based upon its statutory authority under §919(b) the 2018-2019 Jury undertook to assess how successful the Sheriff’s Department has been both in intercepting attempts to introduce contraband in to the Santa Barbara County Main Jail (Main Jail) and in discovering and confiscating illegal articles if they later are found within the facility itself. The Jury determined that the introduction of contraband into the Main Jail continues to be a problem. The Jury recommends more thorough “pat down” searches at intake, the purchase of another drug sniffing dog, and purchase of an x-ray body scanner for use at the Main Jail. The entire report, “Contraband in the Main Jail,” can be found on the Grand Jury’s website at


Pursuant to the provisions of California Penal Code §919(b) the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury (Jury) is vested with the discretionary authority to, “inquire into the condition and management of the public prisons within the county”. In exercising that authority, the Jury historically has determined to review the circumstances surrounding inmate deaths occurring while they were in the custody of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

This Activity Report addresses the Jury’s inquiry into the death of one such inmate, HJA, who suffered from multiple chronic medical conditions and died at Cottage Hospital I in March 2018. Based upon its review, the Jury has concluded that HJA’s death was attributable to natural causes and no further action is required.

The form and timeframe of the agencies’ responses are required by California Penal Code Sections 933 and 933.05. All Grand Jury reports and responses are posted on the Jury’s website ( 

The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury is a basic part of government within the judicial branch. The Grand Jury acts independently yet is under the general control of the Superior Court Presiding Judge to assure that it acts in accordance with the Penal Code of the State of California.

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Luvaduck Jun 10, 2019 04:49 PM
Grand Jury Investigates Death and Contraband in County Jail

Millions of people get x-rayed at airports all every hour and get more exposure while in flight, as do the attendants & pilots. Women get routine mammograms, the chronically ill and little children get dental x-rays. The dosage is super low. Inmates, regardless of guilt are in more danger from other inmates who get weapons and/or drugs or booze that make them even less rational.

buckwheat Jun 10, 2019 09:44 AM
Grand Jury Investigates Death and Contraband in County Jail

Reading a couple of the comments, we are to assume that all those who are arrested are guilty and are in jail because "they did it to themselves"? What ever happened to innocent until Proven guilty?

PitMix Jun 10, 2019 11:11 AM
Grand Jury Investigates Death and Contraband in County Jail

We live in the Disunited States of Trump now. All news is fake, and all arrestees are guilty. X-ray them and then toss them into a facility that the prison gangs run. And if any turn out to be innocent, apologize but drag out the process of restitution as long as you can.

Flicka Jun 09, 2019 03:17 PM
Grand Jury Investigates Death and Contraband in County Jail

Every time I got shoes as a kid, at Ralph Runkle's Shoes (store), they x-rayed my feet to show Mom how the shoes fit. Fun for kids to see their "skeleton feet". Drug sniffing dogs should help with not getting drugs into the jail.

a-1568843468 Jun 09, 2019 06:59 PM
Grand Jury Investigates Death and Contraband in County Jail

Tough on x-rays & other screening! You give up some rights when you're busted &/or convicted of a crime. Cry us a river. No more contraband, Sheriff’s Department! Somebody is letting all that slip inside. Boo!

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