Located in Santa Maria, CA, the Susan J. Gionfriddo Juvenile Justice Center is a co-ed, maximum-security youth correctional facility run by the Santa Barbara County Probation Department. After an arrest for a California juvenile offense, minors between the ages of 12 and 18 may be briefly detained here or committed for an evaluation period and scheduled for juvenile court.
Some youth will serve short sentences in this juvenile hall. Alternatively, they may be incarcerated in the associated “Los Prietos Boys Camp for a period of four to six months.
Opened in 2004, the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall (SMJH) has a capacity to house 140 wards of the court. It is located about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. The address and phone number is:
4263 California Blvd.
Santa Maria, CA
The following information, provided by our team of California juvenile criminal defense lawyers, covers topics of interest to families who may now have a child in custody at the Santa Maria Youth Correctional Facility:
- 1. Intake – What’s Next?
- 2. Contact With Juveniles
- 3. Visiting Your Child
- 4. Health/Program Information
If your child or teen has been arrested and detained in Santa Barbara County, he or she will undergo a comprehensive risk and needs assessment. Probation officers in the “court services” unit perform the evaluations, which may include interviews with family members. They may then make recommendations for detention/release options to a juvenile court judge.
If further detained, your loved one’s judicial detention hearing should take place within two or three days (excluding weekends and holidays). A Santa Barbara or Santa Maria Juvenile Court judge will determine whether he or she will be released, further detained pending an adjudication hearing (within 15 days), or transferred elsewhere.
In cases involving serious felony allegations, a juvenile offender can potentially be transferred to the California Department of Juvenile Justice. In an extreme case, there may be transfer to adult court.
2. Contact With Your Child/Teen
Incoming detainees at the Gionfriddo Juvenile Hall are allowed to make two initial phone calls, and may call a parent/guardian, a criminal attorney, and/or an employer. Thereafter, they will be able to make outgoing calls on weekdays, but cannot take incoming personal calls at the facility. (In an emergency, call the SMJH at 805-934-6270 and speak to the supervisor on duty.)
The number of personal calls incarcerated youth are allowed to make depends upon the behavior-related level achieved. The range is one to three calls per week. Calls are limited to five minutes in duration, and may be made to parents/guardians only.
You can also send U.S. postal letters to your child, and he or she is free to write to you. (Youth are provided with writing material/postage. ) Note that anyone can write letters to Santa Maria Juvenile Hall residents except individuals who are currently incarcerated or under court order not to associate with him/her.
Personal mail will be screened for gang related material and other types of contraband. Nothing pertaining to drugs, violence, pornography, gangs, racial hatred or any type of illegal behavior is accepted. Magazines/newspapers are not accepted. You can send in 4 x 6” pictures of a parent/guardian or the child of a resident, but no other photos are accepted.
3. SMJH Visitation Policies
Committed juveniles generally have an initial 30-minute visit from parents/guardians and thereafter, are allowed two hours of visitation a week. (To schedule your initial visit, contact the facility.) General visiting hours at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall are as follows:
Unit 4 – Sunday Noon to 2:00 p.m.
Unit 5 – Sunday 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Unit 6 – Sunday 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
“Special visits” by other family members, including siblings and children, are allowed on a case-by-case basis. Advanced approval must be sought from the senior deputy probation officer. Visits are considered person-to-person, “contact” visits unless the youth is being held in maximum security. In that case, visits take place through a glass partition using a telephone handset.
Specific rules for visitors include:
- You may bring only a valid photo ID and one key into the facility. (No cell phones, purses, etc.)
- You can bring in appropriate, soft-cover books for the juvenile hall.
- Attempting to enter the facility with weapons, alcohol or drugs will subject you to arrest.
4. Life and Health in Detention
The Santa Maria Juvenile Detention Center provides meals and other basics to detained and committed youth, as well as daily access to healthcare services. Mental health and substance abuse treatment services are also available.
The Santa Barbara County Education Office provides a complete high school academic program in the SMJH housing units, and attending school is required for pre-graduates. (Computers are used, but no Internet is allowed in juvenile hall.)
Rehabilitative programming is provided, including a “Reasoning and Rehabilitation” program and “Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT.)” A youth leadership program is offered for boys and a “Girls Circle” program for girls.
In compliance with PREA, Santa Barbara County declares a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, abuse, and/or misconduct involving minors. To report any suspected abuse at this facility, call the SMJH Director at (805) 934-6273.