Superior Court Judge Peter J. Wilson just ordered Sheriff Don Barnes to reduce Orange County’s jail population by half. This order was issued due to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the inmates.
The order was to allow for more social distancing among inmates, particularly those “at-risk” due to underlying health conditions. They argued for the release of vulnerable and disabled inmates to protect those remaining in the jails from the coronavirus. The lawsuit states that the jail does not permit proper social distancing, mandatory staff testing, or enforced mask policies. The ruling was announced a day after the Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported an outbreak involving 74 inmates.
“If the order stands, it will result in the release of more than 1,800 inmates. Many of these inmates are in pretrial status for, or have been convicted of, violent crimes and will be released back into the community. This order puts our community at substantial risk and does not take into account the impact on the victims of these crimes,” said Barnes.
Judge Wilson argues that the virus is a threat that shows serious harm to medically vulnerable people in custody. He argues that this violates their constitutional rights. Barnes’ department is still looking at evaluating the order, its impacts, and the options they have for appeal. He said that as COVID-19 cases rise in the community, they will impact the jail numbers as well. Barnes also noted that there have been no inmate deaths from COVID-19 in the county’s jails.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have gone beyond CDC guidelines and increased testing for inmates and employees. I am confident that the practices and procedures we have implemented in previous cases will bring cases back down to zero as we have before,” Barnes said.
Barnes also released his full statement following the order on Twitter, which received a ton of support from social media users wanting to stand behind the police department and the community in appealing the court order. Others pointed out that this is a liberal plan to weaken the masses and make more people dependent on the government.
Only Democrats would put the safety and lives of incarcerated people over the safety and lives of law-abiding American citizens. Sheriff Barnes is one of the few who sees past the stupidity and short-sightedness of courts and politicians.
Where are the victim’s rights advocacy groups against the violent criminals being released back on the streets due to a virus that has a 1-2% mortality rate?