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Long sought new Santa Barbara County Jail complex set to open

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office Image
An artist;s illustration of Santa Barbara County's Northern Branch Jail

$120 million dollar facility designed to house up to 376 inmates

A long sought new Santa Barbara County jail will formally open Thursday, some two years later than originally planned.

It a project that’s been talked about for decades. Santa Barbara County’s jail system has been overcrowded for years, with numerous Grand Jury reports calling for action. But, the main issue was cost.

In 2012, the county received an $80 million dollar state grant towards a jail complex. Construction took much longer than expected because of weather delays, issues with the original architect, and the pandemic.

But Thursday morning, the new $120 million dollar Northern Branch Jail on Black Road will officially be dedicated. The jail is set up to handle 376 inmates, including 32 in a special area designed for those with specific medical or mental health issues. The facility will help relieve capacity issues at the county's Main Jail in Santa Barbara.

It's expected the new facility will become operational in late December.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.