According to the latest figures released by the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Santa Barbara County
has sentenced the second highest number of people to life without
the possibility of parole on the Central Coast. Under the state’s
three strikes law, Santa Barbara has sentenced 74 people to 25
years to life, and another 152 people to life without the
possibility of parole, for a total of 226. Ventura County leads the
Central Coast in both categories, with a total of 366 non-parolees.
San Luis Obispo was responsible for incarcerating 136.
Last Thursday, on the eve of her trial, Sylvia Vasquez pleaded
guilty to four counts of felony child abuse inflicted upon her four
adopted children. Judge Frank Ochoa had already ruled the
prosecution’s most incriminating evidence, including a replica of
the “cage” in which one of the children was confined, could be
admitted as evidence. He had also agreed to cap Vasquez’s potential
sentence at one year in county jail. A juvenile court judge will
rule on Vasquez’s bid to be reunited with the children, some of
whom suffered from severe emotional problems even before she
The Sheriff’s Council voted to drop litigation on behalf of
outgoing president Helen Jepsen against four former council
presidents who sued in December 2005 on the grounds that she
mishandled the books. An audit resulting from the lawsuit revealed
sloppiness and self-dealing by both Jepsen and her predecessors.
The council’s decision frees the four former presidents from legal
costs estimated at $375,000, but it remains to be seen whether it
will put an end to the long-simmering presidential battle. Jepsen
is seeking a statement from her former accusers saying their
charges proved unfounded; they have refused.