The Santa Barbara County Main Jail remained under lockdown Thursday after another fight — the second in a week — broke out among inmates.
The jail was initially put on lockdown Monday afternoon when a brawl broke out in a common area near the exercise room.
“What we had was a premeditated fight involving members of Hispanic gangs with ties to the state prison system,” he said.
Officials began to lift the jail lockdown on Wednesday, one section at a time. Shortly after, another fight broke out, this one involving six inmates, with one injured inmate taken to the hospital for treatment.
Sugars said that area of the jail was immediately put back in lockdown until further notice.
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 fights, possible retaliation and other factors, which is why the duration differs for each lockdown.
Sugars 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. It has everything to do with state prison inmates’ influence in our county jail,” he said. “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.”
Officials are continuing to investigate this week’s incident, and none of the inmates involved nor their gang affiliations has been identified.