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Sheriff Investigating Series of Fights at Santa Barbara Medium Security Jail Facility

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an on-going investigation into a series of altercations that occurred at the Medium Security Facility (MSF) on Sept. 9.

In total, there were four fights involving multiple pre-trial inmates which occurred within a one hour time-frame. The motivation for the fights is under investigation.

The unusually hot weather may also have been a contributing factor to short tempers at the MSF.

At approximately 8:30 p.m., MSF custody staff observed a large group of inmates exiting a dayroom area who appeared to be agitated. As a safety precaution, MSF staff cleared the approximately 120 inmates out of the area to investigate whether a dispute or altercation had occurred.

While staff was inspecting the dayroom, a large scale fight started in a pre-trial housing area of the Medium Security Facility and involved 25 to 30 inmates. Shortly after, a second fight started in another pre-trial housing area involving 15 to 20 inmates.

Custody deputies from the Main Jail responded to assist. Once the fights were under control, approximately 17 inmates were removed from the MSF to the Main Jail. Approximately 30 minutes later, a third fight involving 10 to 15 inmates broke out followed by fourth fight involving five to 10 inmates.

Due to the large scale and on-going nature of the fights, the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) was activated to assist with maintaining facility security.

In all, approximately 22 inmates were removed from the Medium Security Facility to the Main Jail which increased the number of floor sleepers at the Main Jail.

As a result of a preliminary investigation, the inmates who were identified as aggressors or participants in the fights were relocated to the Main Jail to a higher security level.

The injuries sustained by the inmates involved in the altercations were minor. One inmate was transported to the hospital with a possible neck injury but it was later determined by medical staff that the injury was pre-existing and not a result of being assaulted.

The Medium Security Facility was originally built in 1961 as the Sheriff’s Honor Farm.

The facility was designed to house low-level offenders but due to jail overcrowding over the years there has been a necessity to house medium security inmates there. The MSF is the oldest part of the Santa Barbara County Jail and one which we hope to close or re-purpose as a result of the construction of the new Northern Branch Jail.

— Kelly Hoover is spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. 

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