June 27, 1996

The Honorable William L. Gordon
Presiding Judge, Superior Court
County of Santa Barbara
1100 Anacapa Street, 2nd Floor
Post Office Box 21107
Santa Barbara, California 93121-1107

RE: RESPONSE TO SANTA BARBARA COUNTY GRAND JURY 1995-96 INTERIM FINAL REPORT -- COUNTY DETENTION FACILITIES

Dear Judge Gordon:

Attached is my response to the Grand Jury Interim Final Report regarding County Detention Facilities.

Cordially,

Jim Thomas
SHERIFF

JT:JD:jb

Attachment


RESPONSE TO SANTA BARBARA COUNTY GRAND JURY 1995-96

INTERIM FINAL REPORT
COUNTY DETENTION FACILITIES
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

FINDING 1: The Santa Barbara County Main Jail is consistently overcrowded.

RECOMMENDATION 1: The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors should implement a plan to build a North County Jail as recommended by previous Grand Juries and the Jay Farbstein "Justice Facilities Short Term Master Plan."

RESPONSE:

We agree. Planning continues for a North County Jail facility. Jail sites have been identified and the County is in the process of attempting to purchase a suitable piece of property. Funding is a serious problem. There is a possibility that jail bond issues will be on the November ballot making money available for local jail construction. We are maintaining close contact with the State regarding this possibility as well as looking for other means to finance a North County Jail operation.

FINDING 2: Correctional officer staffing at the Main Jail is inadequate.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The Board of Supervisors should provide the funding to increase the custodial staffing at the Main Jail.

RESPONSE:

Currently there are 169.5 authorized corrections officer positions for the jail operation. When at full strength, this is a sufficient number of officers required to perform the routine duties at all jail facilities, including the Main Jail. The staff shortage problem stems from an inability to fill vacant position quickly. Relatively speaking, the attrition rate for corrections officers is good; however, the jail is a stressful place to work as well as being viewed as a "stepping stone" into a regular law enforcement job which causes the loss of a number of good staff each year. The selection process for new employees is comprehensive. It includes a polygraph and psychological examine, as well as a very thorough background. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of candidates are disqualified during the process.

FINDING 3: No notices posted in view of the cells state the availability or hours of the Law Library. The most recent Law Library procedure manual is dated September, 1993. No written explanation is provided for access denial or delay in granting the requests. The Santa Barbara County Law Library assists Inmate Welfare Services in providing law books for inmates. It receives no extra funding for the assistance it provides to the jail.

RECOMMENDATION 3a: Main Jail staff should update and enforce the procedure manual to provide prompt access to the Law Library. When access is denied or delayed, there should be a written explanation provided. A waiting list should be posted in a place visible to most inmates. Information about the availability of the law library should be posted in a place visible from each cell or included in the pamphlet given to each inmate.

RESPONSE:

Section 1064 of Title 15 of the California Code of Government Regulations reads as follows:

"LIBRARY SERVICE. The facility administrator shall develop written policies and procedures for library service in all Type II, III, and IV facilities. The scope of such service shall be determined by the facility administrator. The library service shall include access to legal reference materials, current information on community services and resources, and religious, educational, and recreational reading material."

Title 15 clearly empowers the jail administrator with the authority to determine the scope of law library service. The guidelines entitled Program and Procedures Standards dated July 1995, states in part, "The requirements for inmate access to a law library is a constantly emerging area of case law and new communications technology. It is impractical, very expensive and not required by law to have a complete law library in most local detention facilities. Neither is it practical, possible or desirable to transport all inmates with legal questions to county or law school libraries. Although this may be appropriate in specific cases such as 'pro-per' inmates. Administrator should contact county counsel and may consult with local courts, public defender and local bar association for suggestions about ways to provide legal reference materials to inmates. Access to legal reference materials can be accomplished by the purchase of pertinent volumes, an agreement with a law library for circulation of books on a request basis, microfiche of legal materials and/or the use of lawyers, paralegals and/or law students to assist inmates in legal matters."

The most recent policy update covering Law Library access was implemented in September 1993. Every attempt has been made to provide Law Library services while ensuring that security interests are protected. The Law Library, located in the Main Jail, contains the legally required reference material as well as a copy machine for inmate use. Reference materials not available in the jail Law Library may be obtained from the Santa Barbara County Law Library upon request; usually the next day. Inmate Services also subscribes to Bancroft Whitney Law Desk, a computer program containing current legal reference materials. This service is also provided.

Over the years, a number of attorneys have examined the Law Library. The Public Defender's Office has a standing invitation to make suggestions regarding materials. On at least one occasion, a complete inventory was conducted by an attorney who was serving time. That information was provided to a Superior Court judge for feedback. We are confident that the Law Library services provided to the inmates of the Santa Barbara County Jail system meet more than the minimum requirements.

Recommendation 3a suggests that prompt access be allowed. When access is denied or delayed, they recommend that a written explanation should be provided. Further, that a waiting list should be posted and placed visible to inmates and that information about the availability of the Law Library should be posted in a place visible from each cell or included in the pamphlet given each inmate.

Given all the other tasks for which an officer is responsible, it would be too time consuming to provide a written explanation each time there is a delay or denial regarding Law Library access. When the inmate is not satisfied with a verbal explanation, he/she may file a grievance which requires a written response. With regard to providing a waiting list and posting information, this would not only be impractical but would violate security procedures. It is not good practice to allow inmates to know other inmates' schedules. Plus, some may not want other inmates to know they are using the Law Library. There are over 25 different housing units plus over 40 administrative segregation cells in the Main Jail alone. Inmates have a history of destroying posted materials and it would be a constant nuisance to do as suggested. Law Library services are mentioned in the Inmate Rules given to each inmate upon booking, as well as mentioned in the jail orientation video tape played at least once per week throughout the jail.

RECOMMENDATION 3b: The Board of Supervisors should provide separate funding to the County Law Library to assist the county jail Inmate Welfare Services. This should include the regular availability of "person or persons trained in the law." Estimated cost: $15,000.

RESPONSE:

This is not necessary. The current Law Library services meet or exceed what is required by law. There is adequate money in the Inmate Welfare Fund to keep it current.

FINDING 4: "The Santa Barbara County Jail Rules - Inmate Orientation/Jail Rules," last revised in October 1991, and the Santa Barbara Jail Policy and Procedures Manual, last revised in September 1993, are not in synch.

RECOMMENDATION 4: The Jail Administrators should review and update both documents to ensure they are in synch and in compliance with state and federal mandates.

RESPONSE:

The Inmate Orientation/Jail Rules, which covers a variety of topics, was last revised in October 1991. The Policy and Procedures Manual regarding the Law Library was revised in September 1993. Both the Rules and the Manual are reviewed on an annual basis. Most recently, both documents have been revised along with the video which will be edited to coincide with those changes. The video, which is shown at least once a week, addresses all the jail rules. Every inmate booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail receives a copy of the Jail Rules which is provided in both Spanish and English. All of our rules and policies conform to established legal mandates and conform to Title 15, the minimum standards for local detention facilities.