We have all heard Sheriff Bill Brown call the Santa Barbara jail the “de facto mental institution for the county” too many times to count. Well, placing a title on a problem is easy, but a real leader would take on this crisis and provide a solution. Yes, I am here to tell you he has not had any new solutions since taking office over seven years ago.
Sheriff Bill Brown continues to direct his line-level deputies to use incarceration of the mentally ill as a solution to incidents. He has not provided education, procedures and policy changes, or partnerships with nonprofits to solve problems at the scene of an incident and use other options other than incarceration. He talks about jail overcrowding but has not even provided changes to decrease the jail population other than building a new jail.
Bill Brown wants us all to believe that his success has been obtaining a green light on the $140 million North County Jail. Why must I as a resident of the county wait four more years for a solution to the overcrowding? Why has the sheriff not tried to resolve the overcrowding in the past seven years?
The sheriff has had every opportunity to engage his department in effective ways to decrease the number of mentally ill in our jail by training deputies in Restorative Policing, a program to help chronically homeless individuals achieve self-sufficiency. The mission of the program is to decrease incarceration and place homeless people in treatment, housing, or work programs, along with working with community organizations and other county departments.
It is time Santa Barbara County residents start to look at what Sheriff Bill Brown really has accomplished in over seven years to improve the county, not just a promise that utopia will occur in 2018 with the new North County Jail.
I will be a sheriff that will provide progressive ideas to problem solve for our most needy and not use incarceration as the only solution deputies have.