City Detention Facilities

INTRODUCTION

In accordance with the requirements of California Penal Code Section 919(b), the Grand Jury is required to "inquire into the condition and management of the public prisons within the county". This report applies to those detention facilities maintained by the following incorporated cities of Santa Barbara County - Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Lompoc, Guadalupe and Santa Maria.

OBJECTIVE

The Grand Jury inspected the facilities with a view toward ensuring that they met State and local requirements with regard to their procedures in administration, operations, basic services and programs.

APPROACH

The Grand Jury visited the detention facilities in all of the cities. During these visits inspections were made of the areas used for incarceration and all other related areas pertinent to the housing of prisoners. Included in the visits were interviews with administrators regarding administrative and operational procedures and problems in the detention facilities.

OBSERVATIONS

The Grand Jury made the following observations:

Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Carpinteria, Solvang, and Guadalupe

The detention facilities in these five cities are all small holding facilities where no one is detained for more than a matter of hours, and sometimes only minutes. Because of the short detention periods, no food preparation or medical facilities are necessary on site. No significant problems were noted and it appears that the detention facilities have met their statutory requirements.

Lompoc

The City of Lompoc is the only city in Santa Barbara County that maintains a jail. The maximum stay for any prisoner at Lompoc is forty-eight hours. The biggest problem is the handling of mentally incapacitated prisoners and inebriated prisoners. As a rule, inebriated prisoners are held for six hours and released. A drunk driver is housed with the general population; someone apprehended for being drunk and disorderly is housed in the special detoxification cell. People falling into these two categories are held for the standard six hours, cited and released. Anyone requiring further custodial action is transferred to the County Jail in Santa Maria or Santa Barbara.

The Lompoc Police Department does not have a secure visiting area and there is an opportunity for contraband to be passed. At the present time, visits are held in what is commonly used as the booking area. Because the primary use of this area is for booking, there is an open slot through which prisoners surrender their belongings. If the jailer must leave the visiting (booking) area during an emergency, it would be possible for contraband to be passed through this slot.

It appears that food preparation at the jail meets statutory requirements, and medical attention is available at the nearby hospital should the need arise.

In addition to housing prisoners arrested by the Lompoc Police Department, the City of Lompoc has a contract with a civilian transporter of State and Federal prisoners (Transcor) who uses Lompoc as an overnight detention facility.

Sobering Centers

One of the newer concepts with regard to the management of public drunkenness is the establishment of Sobering Centers, which are operated by non-profit organizations under contract with local governments. By detaining persons who have been apprehended for being drunk in public in a special Sobering Center for a given time (usually six hours) and then releasing them, both the expense and time of transporting them to the County Jail, paying the booking fee, and subsequently prosecuting them is avoided, thus saving the cities a significant amount of money. Habitual offenders are ultimately prosecuted. Persons who have been apprehended for being drunk in public can be admitted to the Sobering Center seven times. On the eighth occasion, they are criminally prosecuted. Persons apprehended for the crimes of being drunk and disorderly or for drunk driving do not have the option of being admitted to the Sobering Center. They are always prosecuted. This program is currently in effect in Santa Barbara, where the Sobering Center was initially opened in March, 1994, and in Santa Maria, where the Sobering Center began operation in December, 1994. Authorities have stated it is a practical and cost effective way to handle this problem. It was noted that the City of Lompoc does not have a Sobering Center for those who are apprehended for public drunkenness.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

FINDING #1: The Lompoc Police Department does not have adequate facilities to house inebriates.

RECOMMENDATION #1a: The Lompoc Police Department should convert an additional one of its existing cells into a detoxification cell.

RECOMMENDATION #1b: The City of Lompoc, in conjunction with the Lompoc Police Department, should establish a Sobering Center.

FINDING #2: The Lompoc Police Department does not have appropriate facilities for prisoner visits.

RECOMMENDATION #2: The Lompoc Police Department should create an adequate area separate from the booking area for prisoner visits.

AFFECTED AGENCIES (California Penal Code Section 933c requires that comments to findings and recommendations be made in writing within 60 days by all affected agencies except governing bodies, which are allowed 90 days.)

1. Lompoc Police Department- response

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