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Santa Barbara County Grand Jury says impacts of jail early release programs still a question mark

A Ventura County woman is facing criminal charges as the result of a fatal traffic collision in February.
Photo by Marco Chilese/Unsplash
A new Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report says more data is needed to accurately assess the impacts of jail diversion programs

Grand Jury says county needs comprehensive database involving all law enforcment related public safety agencies.

A new Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report says the county doesn’t have the data to tell if jail diversion, and early release programs implemented during the pandemic have impacted crime rates.

The report notes the jail population has been trending downward for the last five years, but that COVID-19 protocols accelerated the rate during the last year and a half. The Grand Jury says public safety agencies need a consolidated criminal justice data system to make accurate assessments.

And the report says Santa Barbara County is the only county in the state where deputies can’t put someone that poses a threat to themselves, or others on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

County behavioral wellness staff members have that authority. The report says the county need to allocate more money to create around the clock co-response teams. It also calls on the county to authorize training so deputies can initiate mental health holds.

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.