Grand Jury Investigates Inmate Deaths
Source: Santa Barbara County Grand Jury
Pursuant to California Penal Code section 919, subdivisions (a) and (b), “[t]he grand jury may inquire into the case of every person imprisoned in the jail of the county on a criminal charge and not indicted,” and “shall inquire into the condition and management of the public prisons within the county.” Under that statute, prior Santa Barbara County Grand Juries often have examined the circumstances surrounding inmate deaths at the Santa Barbara County Main Jail. Four inmates died in 2019 while in the custody of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department; they will be identified in this report by the identifiers A1, B1, C1, and D1. The deaths of A1 and B1 were determined to be natural causes, while C1 and D1 were determined to have died by suicide.
The 2019-20 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury investigated the circumstances and facts surrounding these deaths, studied the facts, and made recommendations with the goal of improving local government operations. The Jury recommends several changes to the medical and housing protocols employed by the Sheriff’s and Wellpath staff, especially when handling inmates with mental health symptoms.
The complete report with agency responses are posted on the Grand Jury’s website: www.sbcgj.org (or below).