Santa Barbara- S County

Grand Jury Targets Late Night Inmate Releases

Civilian Oversight panel report cites lack of clear policy.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury says its concerned about the safety of inmates being released late at night from the main county jail near Santa Barbara.

In a report issued this week, the oversight panel says its investigation has revealed county jail inmates often do not know what their options are when it comes to re-gaining their freedom and walking out of the jail.

The Grand Jury says between 20 and 40 inmates are released from the Main County Jail every 24 hours with an average of 9 set free between 11pm and 6am.

The Grand Jury says inmates are not always advised of their options, either verbally or in writing, upon release and are placed in danger late at night or early in the morning when there's no public transportation available.

The panel wants the Sheriff's Department to provide inmates, in writing,  options for either a free taxi or bus voucher, use of a telephone and to remain in the main jail lobby until sunrise.

In a preliminary response to the Grand Jury Report, the Sheriff's Department says it has been working with the courts to allow the jail more time to release inmates from custody to reduce late night discharges.

The Sheriff's Department also says its modifying its inmate reception center or lobby to allow for overnight shelter, seating and restroom use for inmates discharged from custody during the hours of darkness.

The Sheriff's Department has 60 days to officially respond the Grand Jury report.

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