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Sheriff Brown's Bogus Boondoggle: The Fraud and the Force

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Kathy Swift     Permalink
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Santa Barbara County Main Jail
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Last Christmas, the Milpas Community Association (MCA) sponsored the Eastside Christmas Parade as part of its Eastside Business Improvement District (EBID) campaign to promote and beautify this predominately Latino Santa Barbara neighborhood.

One of the notable features of the parade was an old-fashioned paddy wagon driven by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff. An effigy of the Grinch languished in the back of the wagon as the Sheriff waved and smiled at the throngs of mostly Mexican parade-goers lining Milpas Street. When you consider that the greater portion of the county's prison population is Latino, one has little to wonder at the Sheriff's ear-to-ear grin for his future constituents at the parade.

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But this little bit of Keystone Kops slapstick speaks volumes to Santa Barbara's plutocracy which does not disguise its social engineering efforts in the city's Latino communities on the Eastside and the Westside. When you recall that the defeated gang injunction was a racial profiling scam promoted by the MCA and its cronies in city hall, it is clear that these wanna-be oligarchs continue to take great interest in Mexican-owned real estate. Deceptive measures designed to produce the same results as the injunction are obviously at play in the MCA's latest campaign to make the Eastside "clean" and "secure" under the terms of the EBID (fraud) coupled with Sheriff Brown's relentless drive to build more jails and detention centers (force).

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For this reason, it is worth taking a closer look at Sheriff Brown's proposed North County jail.

Of all the Sheriff's many arguments for the new jail, his most egregious is his insistence that the current county jail is overcrowded. Sheriff Brown has maintained that prison "infrastructure has not kept pace with the increasing population in our county".... (click here).

But a closer look at the Sheriff's prison population in March reveals that 74% of them were pretrial detainees. (click here).

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In fact, Santa Barbara County has one of the highest rates of pretrial detainment in California, with about 3 in 4 inmates imprisoned pretrial. They have been unconstitutionally detained for no other reason than THEY COULD NOT AFFORD TO POST BAIL. That means that pretrial detainees can sit awaiting trial for months - sometimes years - even though the majority are held for petty offenses that in earlier times would have seen their release under their own recognizance. In other words, by holding so many unconvicted, low-risk defendants in County lockup, Sheriff Brown has artificially inflated his prison population with pretrial detainees in order to lend credence to his bogus arguments for another jail.

How exactly are these pretrial defendants suffering from the violation of their constitutional rights by the good Sheriff's practices? Keep in mind that the 8th amendment of the Bill of Rights guarantees that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted" in prison.

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Kathy Swift is a graduate student at UCSB and one of the hosts of Radio Occupy Santa Barbara at KCSB. She is an activist and organizer working on Occupy Wall Street issues pertaining to social justice, the environment, and the ending of corporate (more...)
 

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