SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The newly built Northern Branch Jail near Santa Maria is up and running.
"We moved in over 200 inmates on Saturday morning and afternoon we moved all
... the inmates from the main jail in Santa Barbara," said custody commander Ryan Sullivan of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.
Officials with the Sheriff's Office say the new jail will help create a safer environment during the Omicron surge.
"As we’ve been very clear about we're experiencing a large outbreak at the
main jail ... and we want to move out of that into this new
facility that’s much safer and much more space to be able to spread people
out," said Sullivan.
The new jail is testing everyone at the facility for COVID-19 on a regular
"Every staff member volunteer and contractor is required to be tested for
COVID-19 daily as well as be vaccinated," said Sullivan.
Right now, inmate visitations are suspended at both the Main and Northern
Branch jails due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"It’s a good thing everybody coming in has to be screened daily … we have
medical testing them daily … Time they go out they’re masked up," said custody deputy Jonathan Boone of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.
The new jail can house up to 344 inmates with an additional 32 in a specialty
mental health facility.
"My hope is that this environment will be a great place for inmates and our
staff and will be conducive for our safety but also provide rehabilitation," said Sullivan.
The Sheriff's Office says its goal is to run this new jail with everyone’s health and safety as the number one priority.