Tuesday, May 24 , 2016, 2:23 am | Mostly Cloudy 55º




Santa Barbara County Jail Remains Under Lockdown After Fight That Injured 3 Inmates

Sheriff's Department spokesman says it was a 'premeditated' brawl involving members of Hispanic gangs

By Alex Kacik, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews |

The Santa Barbara County Main Jail remains under an indefinite lockdown after a fight broke out in a common area near the exercise room Monday afternoon, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Department spokesman Drew Sugars told Noozhawk that three inmates were injured in a fight that involved at least 12 inmates, with two transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. He said that so far only blunt objects were found at the scene.

“What we had was a premeditated fight involving members of Hispanic gangs with ties to the state prison system,” he said.

During a lockdown, the jail will comply with the inmates’ “legal minimum requirements of movement,” restrict privileges such as meeting in a common room and change visitation hours, according to Sugars. Employees take extra steps to ensure everyone’s safety as officials investigate reasons for the fight, possible retaliation and other factors, which is why the duration differs for each lockdown.

There have been four fights at the jail in the past two weeks, but only one on July 4 has resulted in a lockdown. Sugars said he couldn’t confirm the duration of that lockdown, but that some have lasted weeks.

He said overcrowding has undoubtedly been an issue, but the larger factor stems from the increasing amount of high-risk inmates.

“It has nothing to do with the North County jail being closed down,” Sugars said. “It has everything to do with state prison inmates’ influence in our county jail.”

The jail houses sentenced and pre-sentenced inmates. While a sentenced inmate stays in jail a maximum of a year per charge (for a longer sentence, inmates are transferred to prison), people can spend months to years waiting for their trials to conclude. Jesse James Hollywood, who was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the murder of Nicholas Markowitz, was in the county jail from 2005 to 2010.

Sugars said that about 80 percent of the county jail’s inmates are pre-sentenced.

“A lot of people don’t understand what kind of inmates we have in jail,” he said, adding that they have let many low offenders go. “Over the past 20 years, the inmate population has boiled away through early release. Now we’re at a point where 80 percent are high-risk or violent and (often) on the way or back from state prison. It’s a different clientele.

“This was built to be a county jail; these days it’s more like a state prison. It’s not built for that level of inmate — only one-third of the facility is built to handle that.”

In most lockdown cases, certain parts of the jail are eventually deemed safe and the lockdown is lifted in stages. But to prevent more fights and lockdowns, Sugars said a new jail is the only solution.

Officials are continuing to investigate Monday’s incident, and none of the inmates involved has been identified.

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.




Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

 

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.