Conditions in Orange County Jails Inhumane, According to ACLU Report

By: Wallin & Klarich

Nobody wants to go to jail. You will have little opportunity to contact your family and friends, and you will not be able to move about freely or enjoy the daily activities of your life. However, residents of Orange County may have more reason to want to avoid jail time. According to a report published recently by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), conditions in Orange County jails are inhumane.

After a two-year investigation by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the organization reported troubling conditions in Orange County jails that the ACLU claims violate state regulations and the U.S. Constitution. The report found that inmates in Orange County jails are exposed to violent, abusive and unhealthy conditions, including a pattern of denial and indifference by jail officials.1

According to the ACLU’s Jails Project report, inmates in Orange County jails receive inadequate medical care, suffer abuse, and are exposed to persistent overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions.

The 108-page report was based on 120 interviews with current and former inmates of Orange County jails along with seven grand jury recommendations during Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens’ 10-year tenure.

Will the ACLU Pursue Action Against Orange County Jail Authorities?

One of the most serious conclusions reached in the report was that sheriffs and the board of supervisors “turned a blind eye” to inmates’ complaints of poor conditions and violence. No deputy was formally charged with prisoner abuse during Hutchens’ tenure, and the board awarded deputies a new three-year contract with an 8.8 percent pay raise in 2016. This pay raise cost California taxpayers around $62 million.

The ACLU has called for the resignation of Sheriff Hutchens and demanded that the Orange County Board of Supervisors start a review to independently supervise and investigate violence and abuse in Orange County jails. This group would also help improve conditions in jails by creating new policies.

After the release of the report, Sheriff Hutchens announced she would not run for reelection after her term ends next year.2 Esther Lim, the director of jails at the ACLU of Southern California, saw Hutchens’ announcement as an opportunity to “clean house” and improve conditions.

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If you are accused of a crime, you do not want to spend time in jail. At Wallin & Klarich, we may be able to help you. Our lawyers have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges. Let our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys help you now.

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