Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes was issued a court order from the Superior Court to release even more inmates because of COVID-19. He’s refusing to do it because the remaining inmates could pose a “serious threat” to the community. The decision on Friday came as a result of a lawsuit filed in April by the ACLU. The Judge who issued the order stated that Sheriff Barnes exercised “deliberate indifference” to the inmates in danger of the virus. Barnes plans to appeal. The order is for 50% of the current inmate population.
The judge ordered Barnes to reduce the population in all congregated living areas by 50%, including all dormitory and barracks-style housing and multi-person cells. He also instructed Barnes to provide a release plan by Dec. 31 that lists all medically vulnerable inmates, and to identify measures to protect all people in that category who won’t be released or transferred from jail.
He ordered Barnes to maintain the reductions “until the current COVID-19 emergency is declared terminated” and to impose a strict policy for staff members to wear face masks anytime they are within 6 feet of an inmate.
“The court’s decision to alleviate the pressure on the jail by depopulating will help prevent the medical infrastructure — in the jail and in the surrounding community — from becoming totally overwhelmed,” Daisy Ramirez, jail conditions and policy coordinator at the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement. “This order recognizes that we must not forget the humanity of incarcerated people, and they should not be put in mortal danger.”Los Angeles Times
Question: if you release them until the COVID-19 “pandemic” is over, how do you get them back? Answer- you don’t. They’re out there to stay until they’re arrested again.
Neither should the victims of their crimes or the community itself be put in “mortal danger.” The Sheriff believes that the release of those prisoners amounts to placing the entire community at risk.
“I have no intention of doing that, of releasing those individuals back into the community. I think they pose a serious threat…We’ve released 1,400 inmates to date since March for low-level offenders. The only inmates remaining now are serious offenders. Of the medically vulnerable, 90 of them are in custody for murder or attempted murder, 94 for child molestation.”Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes
The Orange County Sheriff also stated that the jail HAS been testing for COVID-19, and said that Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson got a “lot of his facts incorrect.”
We have been testing inmates. We have been so far ahead of the curve when it came to best practices within our jails. We mitigated our COVID crisis from 220 in March to zero as of last Monday.”Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes on Fox
Orange County Sheriff Barnes is correct – it’s an absurd order.
Featured photo: Screenshot of Sheriff Barnes via Twitter
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