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Grand jury releases report on contraband at Santa Barbara County Jail

Posted at 6:56 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-15 00:07:36-04

A Santa Barbara County Grand Jury report released this week takes a hard look at drug use at the Santa Babara County Main Jail in Goleta.

It found that in 2018, there were 96 times in which inmates were caught with drugs or alcohol.

The jury, comprised of volunteers, suggests more can be done to prevent contraband from getting into the jail.

The county says it’s a nationwide epidemic that has continued to make its way through these walls.

“The problem with contraband is that it’s always present. We can do what we can to minimize it, we can try and intercede it, but just as soon as we stop one hole, another hole gets made,” explained Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Chief Custody Deputy Vincent Wasilewski.

Here are some of the ways in which the grand jury argues the county falls short in preventing contraband from getting into the jail:

Finding 1:
Pat-down searches of arrestees have proven to be inadequate to intercept all of the contraband introduced into the jail.

Finding 2:
Currently, there are no full-body X-ray scanners in use at the main jail to detect contraband hidden on the person of arrestees, inmates or visitors, and only one is planned to be purchased for use at the northern branch jail to be opened later this year.

Finding 3:
There is only one drug-sniffing dog and he is used only periodically at the main jail to detect contraband.

Along with the findings came recommendations, like adding more full-body X-ray machines and drug-sniffing dogs.

Currently, Krypto, who was added to the team in July of 2018, is the only drug-sniffing dog on staff.

“Custody Deputy Ian Ur and his partner, Krypto, have already made over 100 finds of drugs in the facility,” Wasilweski said.

The grand jury reports some drugs are getting in through letters doused in methamphetamine, pipes and heroin found at a perimeter fence.

Chief Probation Officer Tanja Heitman tells KSBY, “It is very unfortunate that so many of the Probation Department’s clients suffer from significant substance use addictions. Our focus is to encourage participation in treatment whenever possible and we are working closely with the Sheriff’s Office to increase treatment options, in and out of custody. We collaborate in re-entry efforts through a multi-agency Jail Discharge Planning Team to improve outcomes for those exiting the jail. I greatly appreciate the challenges that the jail environment presents. The Probation Department is very supportive of the Sheriff’s efforts to address the problem within the facility. It is truly a national crisis and we will continue to partner with them on the issue.”

The county has 60 days to reply to this report. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says, in the meantime, they are going to continue to be vigilant in trying to find any contraband.

We checked to see if San Luis Obispo County’s Grand Jury had recently done a similar report on contraband. While one report recently looked into the California Men’s Colony, we did not find one on this topic, in particular.