Inmate Grievances Down at County Jail

Medical and Mental-Health Complaints Decreased Nearly 40 percent in 2019

Santa Barbara County Jail | Credit: Paul Wellman File

Inmates of the Santa Barbara County Jail are reporting better medical care and filing fewer grievances as a result, the Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors requested quarterly reports from the Sheriff’s Office in 2016 that would detail inmate grievances and how they are handled. The extra accountability and work by the community corrections input group in collaboration with Mark Mahurin, medical grievance oversight coordinator, has proved successful — both the second and third quarters of 2019 showed inmate medical and mental-health complaints decreased by nearly 40 percent.

In the second quarter of 2019, there were 97 medical-related grievances compared to the 58 in 2019. In the third quarter, there were 98 in 2018 and 59 in 2019. In both quarters, there were 14 and 16 Families ACT forms filled out on behalf of inmates — a more than 200 percent increase from the four forms filed each quarter in 2018. Families ACT forms can be filled out by an inmate’s loved ones to request specific medical, mental health, and dental treatment.

The report broke down the grievances into four categories: dental, mental health, medications, and medical. In both 2019 quarters, medical and medications had the highest number of grievances. In the second quarter, there were 30 medical, 20 medication, six mental-health, and two dental grievances. In the third quarter, there were 40 medical, 12 medications, five mental health, and two dental grievances.

The report confirmed that all of the complaints were responded to before the 15-day response requirement, and the average response time was four days for both quarters. All inquiries from family members or other community members through Families ACT forms were also responded to by medical staff.

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