DETENTION FACILITIES IN SANTA BARBARBARA COUNTY

Released November 11, 1999 and May 11, 2000

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Although Grand Juries have supported the construction of a North County Jail for years, the issue is more urgent now than ever before.

 

There is overcrowding in the Santa Barbara Main Jail as a result of escalating criminal activities.  The average daily population has climbed steadily from 608 inmates in 1985 to 1,214 inmates in 1999 (Exhibit 1-Page 2).  As overcrowding increased, male inmates had to be accommodated in triple bunks, beds in dayrooms and even by sleeping on the floor.  This created health issues and safety concerns for both inmates and correction officers, and increased the possibility of assaults and escapes.

 

In the Probation Department, a juvenile court addition attached to the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall was opened in August 1999, and a new 20-bed addition to the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall was opened for occupancy in January 2000.  This addition is still not sufficient to address the increasing incidence of juvenile crime.  Since two-thirds of juvenile offenders comes from the North County, the proposed 120 bed juvenile facility is critically needed.

 

Grand Jury Finding 1:  The Grand Jury finds that continued overcrowding of the Main Jail has led to a court order for an early release program in 1998.  This was implemented in 1999.  The early release program is a poor solution to overcrowding because it simply puts criminal offenders back on the street.

 

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding and Recommendation 1:  The Sheriff’s Department agrees with the finding that the best remedy to relieve present and future jail overcrowding is to construct an urgently needed jail facility in the northern part of Santa Barbara County.

 

Numerous presentations regarding this important issue have been made. Sheriff’s Department personnel continue to make a concerted effort to educate Santa Barbara County citizens about the inmate overcrowding issue through use of media resources, personal and public presentations.

 

Work continues on contract negotiations and acquisition of an appropriate jail site in North County.  Sheriff’s staff is actively working with architects on programming and design of a new jail facility.  Funding options continue to be explored.

The Sheriff’s Department is committed to working with the County Administrator and Board of Supervisors to identify funding alternatives, which will bring this urgently need adult jail facility to fruition.

Board of Supervisors Response to Finding 1:  The Board adopted the Sheriff’s Department’s intended response, agreeing with the finding, as its response.

Grand Jury Recommendation 1:  The 1999-2000 Grand Jury believes the best remedy to overcrowding is to construct an urgently needed jail in the North County.  It therefore recommends that the BOS and the Sheriff continue their efforts to inform citizens of this very critical need.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 1:  See response to Finding 1.

BOS Response to Recommendation 1:  The Board adopted the Sheriff’s Department’s response as its response.

Grand Jury Finding 2:  Two-thirds of juvenile offenders live in the North County.

Probation Department’s Response to Finding 2:  The Finding represents the youth demographic in Santa Barbara County and is consistent with the distribution of the source of juvenile referrals and minors detained in our facilities.

BOS Response to Finding 2:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response.

Grand Jury Recommendation 2:  The Grand Jury recommends that the Board of Supervisors and the Probation Department construct a 120-bed juvenile facility even if currently building a North County jail.

Probation Response to Recommendation 2:  This recommendation is consistent with the demographic projections contained in the “Juvenile Facility Needs Assessment” which was prepared for inclusion of our request for state grant funding for a North County Juvenile Hall.  The co-located Juvenile Hall/Jail Facility that was proposed as part of Measure U2000 must be re-evaluated due to the failure of the ballot measure.  The Board of Supervisors did agree to an alternative plan on August 10, 1999 that would utilize an $8,000,000 Board of Corrections State Grand Award and a $4,000,000 in-County match to construct a North County Juvenile Hall on County property, adjacent to the current Santa Maria Juvenile Hall on Foster Road.  This plan will include the immediate capacity to house 80 minors in the future.  These three podular units will be configured with a new Intake/Reception area, office and food preparation areas, in order to provide the necessary infrastructure for this addition to our current facility.

BOS Response to Recommendation 2:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response with the following addition:

County Administrator Response to Recommendation 2:  The 120 bed facility was dependent on voter approval of ballot measure U2000 in March 2000.  Because the ballot measure was not approved, an alternate plan, using an $8 million State Board of Corrections grant, matched with a County General Fund contribution of $4 million will be implemented.  The revised project will add 80 beds at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall by September 2004.  These 80 beds, plus the 50 beds currently available at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, will provide a total of 130 beds, or 10 more than the Grand Jury recommendation.

The additional cost to the County to operate this expanded facility is projected to run $2.8 million per year.  The County currently does not have a funding source identified to fund these operating costs.  If the County General Fund becomes the funding source, then there will probably be an impact on other County services as a result.

Grand Jury Finding 3:  The Grand Jury found the Male Honor Farm facility in a dilapidated condition.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding and Recommendation 3:  The Sheriff’s Department partially agrees with this finding.  The recommendation to renovate the latrine is in process with an estimated completion date of March, 2001.  The recommendation to install a fire sprinkler system will not be implemented because it is not warranted or is not reasonable.

The Sheriff’s Department has been working with Santa Barbara County General Services since June of 1997 attempting to address the condition of the latrine and the roof.   On June 25, 1997, Sheriff’s Department Jail staff met with Scott Hosking, who was the General Services Facilities Manager.  Mr. Hosking inspected the Male Honor Farm and noted roof damage, leaking showers, and other damage.  Mr. Hosking then stated he was going to prepare an estimate and determine the best course of action.  Due to lack of funding, this project was put on the deferred maintenance plan.

On March 1st, 2000, Sheriff’s Department Jail staff met with the current General Services Facilities Manager, Mike Beckett.  Mr. Beckett advised us that General Services had received the funding approval for Honor Farm Latrine project for the 2000/2001 fiscal year.  Drawings should be completed and approved by August of 2000.  Project construction is due to start in September of 2000.

On June 1st, 2000, Sheriff’s Jail staff met with General Services Assistant Director, Mark Mittermiller.  Mr. Mittermiller assured us that General Services has begun the Honor Farm project drawings and that the project appears to be on schedule.

Mr. Mittermiller was asked about the installation of a fire suppression sprinkler system for the Honor Farm.  Mr. Mittermiller said the sprinkler system is not included in the Honor Farm project and is not required by code, since the Honor Farm was built over twenty years ago.  Ellie Shelton from the State Fire Marshall’s Office was contacted by our Department and she confirmed that since the Honor Farm latrine project is “like-in-kind,” it does not require the installation of fire sprinklers.  Sheriff’s correctional staff are on duty 24 hours, 7 days a week to monitor potential fire hazards and to take immediate action to protect inmates and/or facilities from harm or damage.

The Sheriff’s Department will continue to work with General Services regarding the much needed Honor Farm repairs.  However, the ultimate decision as to what work is completed is made by General Services, who is responsible for general upkeep and maintenance of the Sheriff’s Department facilities. Mr. Beckett also provided us with a project timeline.

Grand Jury Recommendation 3:  The Grand Jury recommends that the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Department begin immediate repairs to the roof and latrine and install a fire sprinkler system.

BOS Response to Recommendation 3:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response with the following additional comments. Repairs to the latrine will be completed by March 2001.  Repairs to the roof will be completed by March 2001. A fire sprinkler system will not be installed because the building code does not require it and there are correctional staff on duty in the facility 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

PROBATION DEPARTMENT FACILITIES

 

Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall

 

Grand Jury Finding 4:  The Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall facility is old and in need of repair and upgrading.  The educational facility is rundown.

Probation Department (PD) Response to Finding 4:  Agree.  The Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall was constructed in 1951.  It consisted of two housing units, a classroom, intake/office area and a kitchen/dining area.  An additional housing unit was constructed in 1969.  The facility contains 56 single rooms, sixteen of which are “dry rooms” that do not have plumbing.  The outdated design of the facility does not meet current juvenile detention standard.  The facility is old and in need of upgrading.  There are two classrooms in the Juvenile Hall; in addition to the original classroom, the dining room has been converted to a second classroom.  The Grand Jury is probably referring to the original classroom regarding their finding that the classroom is “rundown.”  This classroom has a high ceiling with high windows, which does not permit a great deal of natural lighting.  Every effort has been made to maintain this classroom in a presentable manner.  The Superintendent of the County Education Office has indicated in the attached letter that they “plan to update and replace the materials on the walls and boards to make the classroom as appealing as possible.”

BOS Response to Finding 4:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response.

Grand Jury Recommendation 4:  The facility would benefit from remodeling to upgrade to current standards.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 4:  This recommendation requires further analysis.  The recommendation is consistent with a grant application that was submitted to the Board of Corrections on March 15, 1999 in order to compete for funds to upgrade the facility.  Unfortunately, the grant application did not receive funding due to the emphasis on adding new beds versus infrastructure repairs and replacement of facilities.  In the current State Budget, there is approximately $112 million allocated for juvenile detention construction and it is hoped that when these dollars are allocated, infrastructure repairs will be included as a funding priority.  The Probation Department plans to consult with the County Administrator and again request authorization from the Board of Supervisors to compete for these grant funds when a Request For Proposal is released in the Fall for submission during the Spring of 2001.

Superintendent Of School Response to Finding/Recommendation 4:  The report makes a finding that the facility is rundown and in need of remodeling.  The County Education Office operates the educational program for the students in attendance.  However, the responsibility for the facilities lies with the Santa Barbara County Department of Probation.  Our staff does plan to update and replace the materials on the walls and boards in the classroom in an effort to make the classroom as appealing as possible.  The County Education Office and the Probation Department work very closely and cooperatively on these issues.  The Probation Department is exploring all funding options to update and improve this facility.  This finding will be more specifically responded to by the Probation Department.

BOS Response to Recommendation 4:  In accordance with Section 933.05 of the California Penal Code, the Board responds that the recommendation will not be implemented since it is not a recommendation.  However, it is probably more appropriate to respond to this as a finding, not as a recommendation.  Therefore, the Board agrees with the finding that the facility would benefit from remodeling to upgrade to current standards.

However, the facility will be remodeled only if the County were to receive a Board of Corrections (BOC) grant funding for it.  The cost estimate to renovate both wings is $12 million ($6 million/wing).  For the Probation department to pursue and apply for BOC funding, the Board of Supervisors must first adopt a resolution that commits the County to a customary 25% match  (10% cash and 15% in-kind match).  The probability of receiving a BOC grant is unknown at this point as the rating priority scales have yet to be established.  A BOC Executive Steering Committee (ESC) will be appointed soon to set these priorities.  It is not known if the ESC will include infrastructure repairs and facility upgrades as priorities, and not just the addition of new bed space when it prepares its recommendations to the BOC.  While the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall is not the oldest juvenile facility in the state, it would have to compete among a group of older facilities that would benefit from upgrading.

It should be noted that starting in September 2004 the County will be faced with a need for an additional $3.0 million to operate the expanded North County Juvenile Hall.  As of this date, no funding source has been identified.

Grand Jury Finding 5:  At the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, routine maintenance inspections are not performed.

Probation Department  Response to Finding 5:  Disagree with this finding.  Under current Juvenile Hall Policy and Procedures, a Senior Juvenile Institutions Officer is required to perform monthly inspections for fire and life safety issues within the facility.  In addition to the monthly inspections, the Senior Juvenile Institutions Officer is required to report and/or correct any fire and life safety issues when discovered during the normal course of a shift.  Any routine maintenance issues observed during these inspections are to be reported and a County Work Order is completed and forwarded to General Services.

BOS Response to Finding 5:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as  its response.

Grand Jury Recommendation 5:  A weekly staff walk-through should be instituted to detect and initiate corrections of routine maintenance problems. 

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 5:  This recommendation has been implemented.  Blanks have been installed in the open circuits of Panel D. General Services has determined that the electrical fittings outside the generator area can be weatherproofed by adjusting and re-mounting the facing plates.  This has been corrected.

BOS Response to Recommendation 5:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as the BOS response.

Grand Jury Finding 6:  At the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, design and construction deficiencies in the electrical room and generator area need correcting.

Probation Department Response to Finding 6:  Disagree with this finding.  The Santa Maria Juvenile Hall was designed and constructed pursuant to the Santa Barbara County Building Code and Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations (Minimum Standards for Juvenile Facilities) as inspected and approved by the Board of Corrections.  All design and construction plans were submitted to the Board of Corrections for review and approval. Construction was completed in accordance with those plans.

BOS Response to Finding 6:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response.

Grand Jury Recommendation 6:  Electrical safety corrections should be made.  Panel D in the electrical room needs blanks installed.  Outside electrical fittings should be made weatherproof.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 6:  This recommendation has been implemented.  Blanks have been installed in the open circuits of Panel D.  General Services has determined that the electrical fittings outside the generator area can be weatherproofed by adjusting the remounting the facing plates.  This has been corrected.  

BOS Response to Recommendation 6:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as the BOS response.

Grand Jury Finding 7:  At the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, sprinkler heads and lighting fixtures in new classrooms, are easily accessible to juveniles as dangers.

Probation Department Response to Finding 7:  Disagree.  These classrooms are pre-fabricated, pre-plumbed, pre-wired commercially manufactured modular structures.  When in use as classrooms, minors are under constant supervision and observation by school staff and/or probation staff.

BOS Response to Finding 7:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response.

Grand Jury Recommendation 7:  Sprinkler heads in classrooms should be recessed and Plexiglas lenses installed over fluorescent light fixtures.

PD Response to Recommendation 7:  This recommendation requires further analysis.  As outlined in the previous response to Finding 7, these classrooms are pre-plumbed and pre-wired upon purchase. The sprinkler heads as installed are external to the ceiling.  General Services will provide a cost estimate to install pop-out sprinklers as recommended.  The current lenses covering the lights are soft Plexiglas and they meet code requirements. General Services will provide a cost estimate to instill rigid Plexiglas lenses to the light fixtures as recommended.  When received, we will evaluate these cost estimates and determine our capacity to comply with this recommendation.  These cost estimates are due by July 15, 2000.

BOS Response to Recommendation 7:  The recommendation will be implemented by the General Services Department by December 2000.

 

SANTA MARIA POLICE DEPARTMENT

 

Grand Jury Finding 8:  The Santa Maria Police Department continues to store hard copy records in the basement where they obstruct a fire exit and are subject to water damage.

City of Santa Maria’s and Santa Maria Police Department’s (SMPD) Response  to Finding 8:   Agree.

Grand Jury Recommendation 8:  The Property and Evidence Room could store the records that are presently in the room used to store the records currently stored in the basement.  A separate entrance and a partition could be designed so as not to commingle both functions. This could be either in the lower level or the mezzanine.

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response to Recommendation 8:  As part of the 2000-02 budget, funding has been set aside to remodel the interior of the Police Department, at which time this issue will be addressed.

Grand Jury Finding 9:  The property room storage area is not laid out efficiently.  The aisles are too wide creating wasted space.

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response to Finding 9:  We respectfully disagree with the findings.  The aisles in the property and evidence room are designed to be wide in order for staff to appropriately maneuver through the aisles with large pieces of property without causing personal injury to staff or damaging the actual property in question.

Grand Jury Recommendation 9:  The services of a space utilization expert are recommended to examine the entire building to make better functional use of space. There is commercially available space saving shelving on tracks that does utilize all available storage space.

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response to Recommendation 9:  Please be advised that staff does intend to address the long-term storage needs of the property and evidence room as part of the upcoming Police Department Facility Remodel project.

Grand Jury Finding 10:  The refrigerator and confiscated weapons are exposed to view from the hallway outside of the property room.  There are also cleaners, lubricants, and other chemicals stored on top of the refrigerator.  This refrigerator is not on an emergency circuit that provides electricity during a power outage.

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response  to Finding 10:  Agree.

Grand Jury Recommendation 10:  The refrigerator and confiscated weapons should be stored in the adjoining room where they cannot be seen from the outside hallway.  The items on top of the refrigerator should be stored in an approved storage cabinet in the caged area just outside of the property room.  An emergency outlet should be installed for this refrigerator that will be energized when the emergency generator is activated.

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response to Recommendation 10:  This recommendation has been implemented.

Grand Jury Finding 11:  There is an electrical three-foot clearance violation at distribution “DS.”  A blank plate is also missing in the main distribution panel in the generator room.

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response to Finding 11:  Agree.

 

Grand Jury Recommendation 11:  Qualified personnel should correct all violations and a thorough inspection of the entire facility should be conducted on all mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems.

 

 

City of Santa Maria’s and SMPD’s Response to Recommendation 11:  The clearance violation at distribution "DS" as well as the missing blank plate have been corrected.

 

SANTA BARBARA POLICE DEPARTMENT

 

Grand Jury Finding 12:  The Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) occupies extremely congested quarters, which impede staff members from doing their job with maximum efficiency.  This is detrimental not only to the staff but also to the public.  This need has been obvious over the years and the Santa Barbara City Council has been derelict in dealing with this need.

Santa Barbara Police Department Response to Finding 12:  Agree.

Santa Barbara City Council Response to Finding 12:  Agree.

Grand Jury Recommendation 12:  It is now time for the City Council to prioritize this serious need and provide the financial means to give immediate temporary relief by perhaps decentralization (e.g. establish a sub-station).  The City Council should also include in its budget a fund for facility expansion or a new station and seek different kinds of financial instruments to achieve this.

Santa Barbara Police Department Response to Recommendation 12:  As stated by the Santa Barbara City Council Response (following).

Santa Barbara City Council Response to Recommendation 12:  The City of Santa Barbara recognizes the space needs of the Police Department.  In November 1999 a bond measure to build a new facility was brought before the voters.  The bond measure failed, receiving only 44.9% of the vote.  Since then, the City has diligently pursued a means to alleviate the space problem.  The City is currently in lease negotiations for a facility (approximately 10,000 square feet) in close proximity to the Police Department.  The needs for a new facility will again be addressed in the context of the annexation proposal that the City currently has before the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).