Despite efforts being made by local and state level officials to adapt current facilities, county jails are being strained by realignment. In Santa Barbara, the jail has already received 24 percent more inmates than expected.

The challenge is that local jails were not designed to house prisoners for long-term sentences. Most county jails were expected to have inmates for one year or less. That system meant that there would be jail space available for defendants awaiting trial and other short-term needs. However, long-term housing involves its own challenges and facility needs.

In Santa Barbara county, the jail was already struggling with capacity and adequacy issues. Now that inmates are coming to serve terms as long as 23 years, beds for traditional county jail needs are disappearing.


The influx of state prison inmates to local jail facilities continues to be a challenge facing Santa Barbara County’s justice system, and the Board of Supervisors heard Tuesday from Sheriff’s Department officials about the impacts.

Assembly Bill 109 is the “public safety realignment bill” aimed at reducing overcrowding, costs and recidivism in state prisons. The bill produces cost savings for the state by allowing more convicted criminals to serve their sentences in county jails rather than be sent to state prisons.

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