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New Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Report Looks At Ongoing Jail Overcrowding Issue

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A new grand jury report says that overall, Santa Barbara County’s jails are overcrowded, but that the new jail complex set to open in Santa Maria should alleviate much of the problem.

The Grand Jury's assessment of  the county’s detention facilities happened before the start of the coronavirus crisis, so some of the overcrowding findings are no longer applicable. 

The Main Jail is at its lowest inmate level in years, with some low level offenders released early.

The report asserts the nearly 50-year-old main jail needs a seismic retrofit, and is not properly equipped for those with disabilities. It also says the complex is understaffed.

The Grand Jury adds that a number of facilities need better video monitoring systems.

The report suggests that inmates being taken to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse be moved in a different way than they currently are. The system as it stands involves taking inmates held in a facility on Figueroa Street, and then physically walking them down a public street to the courthouse.

The Grandy Jury says that for safety reasons, they should instead be transported by vehicle.