Santa Barbara County Jail Outdated and Inefficient
Source: Santa Barbara County Grand Jury
Although the construction of a new jail facility in the northern part of Santa Barbara County near Santa Maria is underway, the 2016-17 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury investigated the condition of the existing Main Jail. Because the new facility has an approved capacity of only 376 beds, some or all of the existing jail component parts must continue to be utilized. The main impetus for the new facility was occasioned by various court orders that the County must reduce the Main Jail population, which has been hovering near 120 percent of its rated capacity. This problem was exacerbated by a Federal Court mandate for the states to lower prison populations, and California’s solution was to send State prisoners to county jails.
Many unanswered questions remain, including how to satisfy current requirements. Meeting these needs will require the ongoing input and cooperation of the Sheriff, the General Services Department and the Board of Supervisors to optimize the functioning of this aging facility with the funding available. The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury recommends that the County explore alternative funding sources.