County Could Significantly Reduce Jail Population with Policy Changes, Program Expansions | Local News

ByTommie C. Curtis

Jul 22, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Santa Barbara County could considerably cut down its future jail inhabitants by employing some plan variations and expanding some of its existing diversion courses, expert Michael Wilson concluded in a report he presented to the Board of Supervisors previous week. 

Wilson reviewed the jail populace projections in the context of pandemic insurance policies and systems diverting reduce-degree offenders from custody. 

The jail inhabitants was traditionally in the variety of 1,100-1,200 inmates (earlier mentioned the rated mattress ability) and declined to about 1,000 by 2017, expert Michael Wilson claimed.

The variety of people today in jail dropped to an unprecedented 600 or so in 2020 and 2021, mainly thanks to the pandemic-relevant zero-bail plan, and has greater to about 800 now, Wilson mentioned.

“The jail inhabitants enhanced all-around 100 beds instantly pursuing alterations in county practice in October of 2021,” his report found. “When the follow of zero-bail for warrants was no lengthier used, the jail inhabitants immediately enhanced.”

If nothing at all altered, he tasks that the county’s normal day-to-day jail population would be 800-900 persons for the rest of this ten years. 

Wilson presented a checklist of procedures that could cut down the jail populace by about 200 inmates, such as expanding the electronic monitoring software diverting a lot more individuals who are accused of less critical offenses and have restricted prison history lowering the jail time for men and women booked for exceptional warrants and lessening the variety of persons booked for probation violations.  

The county’s felony justice departments (like Sheriff’s Business office, District Lawyer, Community Defender and Probation) have been doing work on process improvements collaboratively for various yrs, and carried out pilot and prolonged-expression packages to evaluate and cut down the in-custody populace.

Some of the possibilities presented in Wilson’s report line up with endeavours previously underway. 

In addition to the declining jail inhabitants, the Probation Section is seeing a remarkable lower in its inhabitants (older people and juveniles), and an growth of pre-trial supervision providers could continue to minimize the selection of persons in custody, the report pointed out. 

As of late June, there were 584 people today in the pre-demo supervision system, which serves individuals awaiting trial for their legal conditions. 

The receiving area for the Main Jail near Santa Barbara.
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The obtaining space for the Major Jail near Santa Barbara.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Persons in custody in Santa Barbara County are housed in the Most important Jail in the vicinity of Santa Barbara and the new, smaller Northern Department Jail in close proximity to Santa Maria.

This includes people who are getting held just before the resolution of their circumstances (pre-trial, or unsentenced) people who have been sentenced and are serving time in custody and people today waiting on transfers to point out prison or point out healthcare facility services.

As of June 2022, 70% of the jail system population was unsentenced. About 33% of men and women were open to probation (if sentenced for the allegations), and 77% of the persons in custody had been not, according to the Sheriff’s Business office details dashboard.

The jail populace projections also assume that legislation enforcement agency bookings into the jail stay the identical, Wilson mentioned.

Santa Barbara law enforcement have booked people accused of misdemeanors at a much bigger fee (far more than double) than Santa Maria, a equally sized town.

Now that the Northern Branch Jail is open, in the vicinity of Santa Maria, there is the chance that Santa Maria police start out scheduling misdemeanors at a better charge considering the fact that the facility is closer and needs considerably less transportation time for arresting officers.

In 2019, Santa Barbara police booked 2,338 people for misdemeanors. The Santa Maria office booked 1,052 people today, according to Sheriff’s Business office custody documents Noozhawk attained by a general public records request.

Santa Barbara police bookings accounted for about 25% of overall bookings pre-pandemic, Santa Maria police bookings into the jail accounted for about 15%, and county Sheriff’s Place of work bookings (like deal towns) accounted for about 35%.

Between all companies, there ended up in between 961 and 1,268 jail bookings for each month in 2019. That selection begun dropping in early 2020 thanks to pandemic-related guidelines.

Wilson reported there has not been a powerful marriage between crime rates and the jail inhabitants traditionally, but rising crime costs could trigger an increase in men and women booked to the jail.

Other elements – this sort of as no matter if police are arresting extra individuals, or the District Attorney’s Place of work is prosecuting extra people today, or judges’ sentencing choices – “those matters ordinarily have a more substantial impact on the jail inhabitants than crime likely up and down,” Wilson stated.

Report Findings 

Wilson concluded that the share of persons in custody who were being unsentenced amplified all through the pandemic. 

Even though jail bookings fell during the 10 years, 2011 to 2021, the duration of continue to be improved, he also found. 

Santa Barbara County’s jail population has declined over the past decade, and dropped significantly during the pandemic, consultant Michael Wilson said Tuesday.
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Santa Barbara County’s jail inhabitants has declined around the past 10 years, and dropped significantly all through the pandemic, specialist Michael Wilson explained.  (MW Consulting photograph)

A consultant report projects that Santa Barbara County’s jail population would be 800-900 people per day for the next decade if nothing changed. That number could be reduced by changing some policies and expanding some efforts that area already underway.
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A advisor report projects that Santa Barbara County’s jail populace would be 800-900 people today for every working day for the up coming decade if very little altered.  (MW Consulting photograph)

Wilson presented some demographic data about men and women in custody that even Board of Supervisors members did not know, including the reality that only 10% of jail mattress use was for individuals with only a new offense. 

About 90% of individuals in the jail are there for a a lot more advanced set of reasons, this sort of as arrest warrants, a probation violation, and/or an arrest for a new criminal allegation, Wilson stated.

These people could have a new arrest for breaking into a motor vehicle, but they also experienced an arrest warrant for a failure to appear in court for yet another case, or they are on probation, Wilson mentioned.

About 40% of people in the county jails did not have a new arrest when they had been booked (they had an outstanding warrant, a probation violation, or have been booked for sentencing, for case in point).

The other 60% of folks did have a new arrest when they ended up booked, Wilson mentioned. 

“I was stunned,” Fifth District County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino claimed right after the presentation at Tuesday’s assembly “I’m one particular of individuals folks that was like, that is not what I understood jail to be. I’m mastering in this article, also.”

If most folks in jail have more complicated circumstances, the process can’t generalize it requirements to assess each individual case, he claimed.

“It in fact would make the neighborhood safer when you have the appropriate people today in jail and not the wrong men and women utilizing up all the resources,” Lavagnino explained.

County supervisors reported in their dialogue Tuesday that endeavours to minimize the jail inhabitants are not about hitting a distinct number, but about building sure the people in jail custody are the persons who need to be in custody for general public safety.

Probation Chief Tanja Heitman spoke for the duration of the conference, and claimed it’s important to link health and human companies to the prison justice partners.

“I just want to emphasize that each piece of what you are chatting about, reducing that recidivism, we won’t be totally successful unless we have Behavioral Wellness and the providers they present, equally drug and liquor (therapy) as very well as psychological wellbeing products and services, entirely built-in with what we’re accomplishing with prison justice,” she said.

The supervisors but did not acquire distinct action on the guide report presented Tuesday.  

“I consider the report now highlights the truth that we are on the suitable track, and we are doing the right things,” Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart stated.

First District Supervisor Das Williams stated it could be easier to recruit and keep custody deputies if the jail populace decreases and there is a lot less required extra time for staff.

“We cannot get to the staffing we want to get to because the existing workforce is staying stretched so slim,” he stated.

As of Tuesday, there have been 791 individuals in custody, which include 330 in the Northern Department Jail and 461 in the Most important Jail, Sheriff Monthly bill Brown mentioned. That consists of 21 folks waiting around on transfers to prison and 31 ready on transfers to the Department of Point out Hospitals, he stated.

Brown claimed a jail would preferably work at no much more than 85% potential simply because of classification difficulties (selected persons are not able to be housed in a device jointly) and the have to have to “spread inmates out more” due to COVID-19.

The Key Jail in the Santa Barbara place exceeded its rated bed capacity from 2015 right up until March 2020, when COVID-19-period constraints decreased the variety of people in custody.

The present-day system has 1,034 rated beds with the addition of the Northern Department Jail and the county options to renovate section of the Main Jail elaborate, which could have an impact on the bed capacity.

— Noozhawk controlling editor Giana Magnoli can be arrived at at .(JavaScript should be enabled to check out this e-mail address). Observe Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Hook up with Noozhawk on Fb.