ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST COUNTY OF ORANGE TO STOP EARLY INMATE RELEASES
February 19, 2010 - 04:16 PM
ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS
FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST COUNTY OF ORANGE
TO STOP EARLY INMATE RELEASES
County Has Already Released Over 300 Jail Inmates Early
During First Few Weeks Of New Policy
SANTA ANA – The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) filed a lawsuit today against the County of Orange to stop the County from releasing hundreds of jail inmates early, before their scheduled release dates. Citing recent changes in state law as the reason for their new early release policy, the County has released over 300 inmates early from Orange County jails since January 25.
The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 18XXX late last year to make emergency changes to state law to allow State inmates to increase the amount of “good time credits” they receive. The amendments to Section 4019 of California’s State Penal Code were passed in response to a federal court order requiring the State to reduce the inmate populations in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facilities to alleviate overcrowding. Under the new law, inmates under CDCR custody become eligible for release for good behavior after only serving half of their original sentence.
“The County of Orange’s early release program endangers our county and the people who live and work here,” said AOCDS President Wayne Quint. “We can’t be releasing drug dealers, car thieves, drunk drivers, spousal abusers, and other offenders back into our community early before they serve their sentences. In some instances, we are already seeing some of these individuals immediately turn around and commit new crimes.”
In Sacramento, a man was recently arrested for attempted rape just twelve hours after being released from jail early under a policy similar to that in place in Orange County. In response, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster issued a temporary restraining order putting a halt to the County’s early release program, calling the program “a formula for disaster.”
Problems with the new state law arose when local governments began applying the new state law to inmates incarcerated in county jails. In a declaration filed with the lawsuit, California Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, who has come out against the county’s interpretation of the new law, states “we were crafting legislation in response to a court order that was only applicable to inmates in state prisons, not county facilities. At no time, was there any discussion that the provisions would apply to county inmates.”
The Association is represented by the Law Offices of Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnsen, who represented deputies in a similar suit filed last week challenging Sacramento County’s early release policy. A hearing on AOCDS’s lawsuit is expected to be held this Thursday.