Pixel Tracker

Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 3:08 am | Fair 37º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Outside Review Finds North County Jail Will Need More Funding, Staffing Than Estimated

Analysis scores Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department cost projections as inadequate

Santa Barbara County’s medium-security jail facility currently contains triple bunks. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County’s medium-security jail facility currently contains triple bunks. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will get an update from an outside consultants hired to evaluate the estimated costs and staffing of planned new jail facilities.

The evaluation found that the Sheriff’s Department estimates were lower than what is needed for operations.

The County CEO’s office contracted with Columbia, S.C.-based Carter Goble Associates LLC to analyze the expense and staffing estimates put forward by Sheriff’s Department staff.

The AB 900 jail facility, scheduled to open in July 2018, will have a capacity of 376 beds and house inmates of all custody levels.

A July 2019 opening is planned for the SB 1022 jail facility, which will have 228 beds and will house minimum custody inmates nearing release, according to the consultants’ report.

Some of the older portions of the main County Jail will be closed under the plan.

For all three facilities, the evaluation found that a larger number of staff would be needed at a greater operating cost.

The consultants’ recommendations are higher by 12 full-time positions than the sheriff’s staff had projected, once all three facilities are occupied and operational.

The analysis also found that the projected total cost of operation for the main jail was $2.2 million more than the amount presented in May by sheriff’s officials.

Some of the report’s findings stated that the jail needs 1,134 beds, but the proposed total jail beds would only number 1,075 in the system.

For the main jail and the new North County complexes, the consultants said a larger number of staff and greater operating expenses are required.

“CGL estimates a need of 375 staff, compared to the sheriff’s proposal of 363 staff,” the county staff report states.

The consultants estimate annual operating expenses of $68.47 million, compared to the sheriff’s estimate of $67.93 million.

That means about $1.8 million more in operations costs would be necessary for 2019-2020, rising another $2 million annually by 2022-2023, primarily due to staffing, the consultants said.

In years past, the jail has been at more than maximum capacity with its 847 beds, but in January 2015 the number of inmates in county jail facilities was just under 800. The county ordered the study earlier this year to see if additional beds were needed and to evaluate the cost of operations.

The outside analysis considered what future demand for the jail might look like, given population growth, at-risk populations and other factors.

In general, the consultants found that the county population has been increasing, but annual bookings and the average daily jail population has been decreasing. Those projections still lead to an increase in beds needed in the future, according to the report.

Part of the recent decrease in jail population might be traced to recent initiatives like Proposition 47, the 2014 voter-approved initiative that reduced some nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors from felonies.

Sheriff’s Department officials said Friday that the cost estimates provided by the consultants were very close to the recommendations the department had provided earlier this year.

“The cost differential is due primarily to the consultants’ recommendation for 20 additional positions at the current main jail facility,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover told Noozhawk.

“While the sheriff’s office recognizes that this proposed staffing increase represents a ‘best-case’ scenario, we have operated at minimal staffing for several years at the main jail,” she said.

“We are evaluating this report to see if full implementation of the recommendations is necessary. The sheriff’s office remains committed to opening the northern branch jail in the most cost-effective manner as possible.”

County officials also wanted to evaluate the condition of the existing jail facilities to see what kind of maintenance expenses could be expected.

Another consulting group, Denver-based Marx Okubo, was hired to look at those expenses. The company estimated that $15.6 million in deferred maintenance work must be completed at the current jail facilities over the new 10-year period, although the firm noted that closing the jail’s medium-security facility, known as the Honor Farm, is proposed and would avoid $1.5 million in costs.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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 using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.