The 10-person Jail Based Competency Program is designed to get patients into treatment immediately, rather than allowing them to languish in jail while waiting months for a state hospital bed to open up. | Credit: Courtesy

The Santa Barbara County Jail recently opened up a new, specialized treatment program for patients who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial so they don’t have to languish for months while waiting for a bed to become available in a state hospital.

The 10-bed program, known as the Jail Based Competency Treatment (JBCT) program, is designed to provide care, treatment, and services to assist patients in achieving competency in the jail, rather than waiting idly. Over the past four fiscal years, Santa Barbara County averaged 50 adult inmates per year who were incarcerated on felony charges and found incompetent to stand trial.

“Our new Jail Based Competency Treatment program will now allow inmates who are incompetent to stand trial to begin treatment soon after it is ordered by the court, rather than having to wait three to six months or longer for a bed to open in the State Hospital system,” said Sheriff Bill Brown. “This local jail-based treatment program will reduce custody time and challenges for inmates and jail staff alike.”

The average number of days patients spend in the program until their competency is restored is 52 days. Once restored, patients are returned to court within 10 days for their cases to be adjudicated.

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