Grand Jury Reviews Youth Safety in Santa Maria
Source: Santa Barbara County Grand Jury
The 2016-17 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury commends the 5th District Supervisor, the City of Santa Maria and its Mayor for accepting the challenge of addressing the need to suppress, prevent and intervene in the current gang culture with the formation of the Santa Maria Mayor's Task Force on Youth Safety.
However, the Jury has concerns in several areas. The service area of the Task Force currently is limited to, and under the direct control of the City of Santa Maria. It should be expanded to include the entire Santa Maria Valley. Also, the Santa Maria City Council is not working in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to provide sources of permanent funding for the programs included in the strategic plan.
The Jury finds that the at-risk youth and their families that the Task Force aims to help have little role in developing the envisioned changes and services that would affect them. Santa Maria is often characterized as a city divided by occupations, social classes and ethnicities. The current organizational structure of the Mayor’s Task Force perpetuates that divide.
The mandate of the Grand Jury is to shine a light on governmental operations within Santa Barbara County. The form and timeframe of the agencies’ responses are required by California Penal Code §913 and §933.05. All Grand Jury reports and responses are posted on the Jury’s website (www.sbcgj.org).
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.