SC County Sheriff’s Office to reopen Blaine Street facility

Santa Cruz County Jail
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The women’s facility of the Santa Cruz County Jail has been closed since September 2021.

Have something to say? Lookout welcomes letters to the editor, within our policies, from readers. Guidelines here.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it would reopen the Blaine Street facility as it begins an electronics update for the main jail’s housing units. Blaine Street is the 32-bed, medium-security women’s facility of the Santa Cruz County Jail, and has been closed since September 2021 due to staffing issues. Advocates have been pushing to reopen the facility ever since.

The electronics update will take about a year to complete.

The move comes just days before the Santa Cruz County Commission on Justice & Gender (JAG) — a body that works to improve the lives of women directly affected by the criminal legal system and to reduce trauma and rates of recidivism — will present its two-year report to the county board of supervisors Tuesday. That report is expected to be critical of the conditions for women in the main jail, and will give recommendations to the sheriff’s office to increase visitation rights, identify safe and supportive housing, improve health care and more.

Lt. Patrick Dimick said the reopening is not necessarily a first step toward permanently reopening the facility, as the staff shortage remains a problem.

“We hope that, once the work is done, we will have enough staff to be able to populate Blaine Street,” he said. “We want to get it back, because it’s better for the community to have Blaine Street open.”

Advocates say they are pleased with the decision. JAG co-chair Evyn Robles said that the sheriff’s office made the right decision in reopening Blaine Street.

“Jails are meant to rehabilitate, and housing women at the main jail keeps them from making progress on their paths out of incarceration,” she said. “We have been pushing for this since it closed, and we look forward to seeing the impact of opening Blaine Street on women, their children and families, and the community at large.

“There is still a long way to go, but this is a great first step.”

JAG will speak Tuesday at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting, which begins at 9 a.m.

FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated with quotes from Lt. Patrick Dimick of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.


Be the first to know all the big, breaking news in Santa Cruz. Sign up to get Lookout alerts sent straight to your phone here or below.