Sheriff and others speak at ribbon cutting ceremony in Santa Maria
The new Northern Branch Jail on Black Road in Santa Maria opened Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We have gathered today to symbolically usher in a new era of corrections, in Santa Barbara County — a more humane, a more understanding, and a safer and more effective way of holding people accountable for criminal offenses,” Sheriff Bill Brown told the audience at the ceremony. “But in a way that offers them tools and resources for personal growth, positive change, sobriety and lifelong success.”
The new facility is an approximately 133,000 square-foot, 376-bed Type II jail facility. A Type II facility is defined as a local detention facility used for the detention of persons pending arraignment during trial and upon a sentence of commitment.
“When I first ran for sheriff I made it a campaign promise that I would work hard to secure a new jail,” Sheriff Brown said. “But more importantly, the right size and kind of jail that would make it a place where people’s lives could be changed. I believed then as I do now in holding people accountable for criminal wrongdoing. But I also believe that we need to give the tools for success and a second chance.”
The facility will house male and female inmates in a mix of medium and high security. The facility includes 32 special use beds for mental health and medical purposes along with an outpatient medical clinic.
It is predominantly a direct supervision facility with 124 full-time employees, including 90 custody deputies.
“We know that a combination of this jail plus commitment to substantial programming for the inmates will reduce recidivism, will increase public safety, and increase the quality of life in our county,” said Rick Rooney, former chair of the Sheriff’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Jail Overcrowding, during the ceremony.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the completion of more than five years of construction on a one-of-a-kind facility.
The project began in 2008, with the acquisition of the site on April 22 of that year.