Released: May 3, 1996


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 the juvenile detention facilities maintained by the county.


To inspect county juvenile detention facilities to ensure they meet California Code of Regulations, Title 15, Subchapter 4, Minimum Standards for local Detention Facilities, Articles 1-7.


The Grand Jury visited the juvenile detention facilities at least twice. The first visit was announced; all others were not. During these visits inspections were made of the areas used for incarceration and all other related areas pertinent to the housing of detainees. Included in the visits were interviews with administrators regarding administrative and operational procedures and problems in the detention facilities.


The Grand Jury was given the following information for Santa Maria and Santa Barbara Juvenile Halls:1

Santa Maria Juvenile Hall - 812 B West Foster Road, Santa Maria, CA 93454

This facility has a 20 bed capacity in two separated housing units. Each cell is approximately 10 feet by 8 feet and contains a bed and toilet/washbasin. Shower rooms are separate. In addition, there are three interview rooms, a school room, a nurse’s office, a dining area/meeting room, a recreation area, a small kitchen and a supply room. Food is contracted from Vocational Training Center (VTC). Food is prepared as follows:

All meals are served by staff and detainees.

A Registered Nurse (RN) is on duty at the facility three to four hours per weekday. At all other times medical services are provided at nearby hospitals.

A scholastic program, in cooperation with the Santa Barbara County Education Office, is in effect and provides an ongoing educational opportunity for the juveniles while they are in detention. Classes are held five days a week.

The staff, by shift, is as follows:

Because of the two separated housing units, the Grand Jury learned night shift staff cannot adequately supervise both of these areas, as well as the intake reception area during bookings.

The capacity of Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is limited to 20 juveniles, whereas the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall’s capacity is 56. Juveniles who are unable to be housed are transported from Santa Maria to Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall. There are an average of 8 trips per week, including trips for Court Hearings. Approximately 75% of all county detainees are from the North County and the demographics of the county population indicate that such disparity will continue; this is especially true, given the increase in crimes by younger and younger juveniles.2

A positive aspect of the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is that a Juvenile Court Commissioner holds court hearings in a courtroom at the detention facility.

Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall - 4500 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara, CA 93110

The capacity of Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall is 56 and is staffed by six people on a 24 hour basis.

Medical services are provided by an RN ( 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Monday thourgh Friday) and a physician is on call.

A scholastic program, in cooperation with the Santa Barbara County Education Office, is in effect and provides an ongoing educational opportunity for the juveniles while they are in detention. Classes are held five days a week.

The facility appears to be adequately managed. Food services are provided from the main jail three times per day.

St. Vincent’s Residential Treatment Facility - 4200 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93102

Under contractual arrangements between St. Vincent’s and the County of Santa Barbara, a detention center for non-violent juvenile females was established through a cooperative effort of several county agencies. There are spacious home-like cottages, a swimming pool and several recreation areas. In this setting, the juveniles are required to maintain the cleanliness of the premises and to prepare their own food.

The contract with the County Probation Department originally authorized 12 detainees; now increased to 18. The ages of the juveniles range from 12 to 18. They receive classroom instruction provided by the County School District. Through proper behavior, detainees may earn telephone privileges, leave time and freedom to enjoy off-campus activities. Family participation in their rehabilitation is encouraged. The average stay at St. Vincent’s is from 9 to 12 months.

The staff of eight includes a licensed psychologist, resident supervisor and a day nurse. The program is geared primarily to sociological orientation and behavioral modification. Santa Barbara County Health Services provides medical services.

Although the facility is operated by the Catholic Church, the Grand Jury was assured that the staff did not press the juveniles to convert to Catholicism nor to attend church services. Religious services are, however, arranged for juveniles who express a desire to attend, in whatever faith desired.

Los Prietos Boys’ Camp - Paradise Road/Star Route, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Los Prietos is a minimum security camp with a capacity of 56 male juveniles. It is designed for the rehabilitation of boys ages 13 to 18 who have been classified as “mid-level delinquents.” The camp is under the direction of the Santa Barbara County Probation Department.

This facility is located in the Los Padres National Forest. The housing facility is on land owned by the US Park Service and leased to Santa Barbara County. The juveniles are primarily from Santa Barbara County, although some are accepted from San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties through a contractual arrangement.

The facility is unsecured. The average stay is six months.

The education program is provided by the Santa Barbara County Department of Education. Juveniles are required to attend classes five half-days per week. During afternoon hours, the juveniles are required to work in crews.

A nurse is on duty four hours a day, four days a week. A physician visits once a week or as needed. Juveniles who have a communicable disease are housed in the administrative office during working hours and returned to the dormitory at night.

Food is served in a modern facility. A full time cook is helped by juvenile trustees.


FINDING 1: The juvenile detention facilities in Santa Barbara County appear to be well managed.

FINDING 2: Consistent with the previous years’grand jury reports, this Grand Jury also finds that the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is not large enough to handle the number of juveniles arrested.

FINDING 3: The staffing at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is not adequate to manage and provide the necessary daily operation of the facility.

FINDING 4: At the Los Prietos Boys’ Camp, juveniles who have a communicable disease are not separated from other detainees.

AFFECTED AGENCIES (California Penal Code Section 933c requires that comments to Grand Jury Findings and Recommendations be made in writing within 60 days by all affected agencies except governing bodies, which are allowed 90 days. We require all responses be submitted on computer disk along with the printed response):


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