Staff Report

Santa Barbara County has received a grant of nearly $6 million over three years from the Bureau of State and Community Corrections to provide mental health services, substance-use disorder treatment, and/or diversion programs for people in the criminal justice system.

The award from Prop. 47 funds recognizes a significant collaborative effort between county stakeholders committed to preventing and reducing the incarceration of people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

“All programs that the grant will support are proven effective tools to divert the most vulnerable population away from our jails and re-direct them to meaningful treatment options,” said Public Defender Tracy Macuga.

Led by the Public Defender, Behavioral Wellness and Sheriff’s departments, the funding will create a full time crisis intervention team coomposed of a sheriff’s deputy and a mental health provider for proactive community interventions. It will also develop law enforcement-assisted diversion services to provide accessible mental health and substance abuse services for South County juveniles and adults with behavioral health needs. 

The grant program also provides housing-related assistance and other community-based support services, including job skills training, case management and civil legal services.

The county’s objective is to serve as many people as possible and divert a minimum of 120 people from the criminal justice system.

The District Attorney and County Executive offices, Good Samaritan Shelter, Family Service Agency and the city of Goleta are also participating to support immediate access to a sobering center, crisis and psychiatric services in lieu of arrest, crisis intervention team field activities, and step-down housing.

The three-year grant will begin in August and include an evaluation component for an objective analysis of the impact of these services. Through mutual agreement, law enforcement officers involved in crisis intervention work will be allowed to respond across county and city jurisdictions to provide seamless coverage for a minimum of 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday.