Orange County: prevent a public health crisis by protecting lives in our county's jails


Orange County residents know that the health of our community depends on the health of all people. But right now, nearly 5,400 individuals are behind bars in OC jails. Roughly 55% of them have not been convicted but remain in jail because they are unable to afford bail. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department which is responsible for running the jails has a long and scandal ridden history of poor treatment and abuse of incarcerated people.

Investigative reports have revealed insufficient hygiene and unhealthy living conditions, and people currently in custody report no hot water, limited and diluted cleaning supplies, and a lack of information concerning COVID-19. Lawsuits and grand jury reports allege inadequate medical care resulting in miscarriages and deaths. This year alone, three people have died in OCSD custody.

This inhumane situation puts our entire county at risk, particularly people in custody most vulnerable to COVID-19 such as people over the age of 60, pregnant people, and people with chronic illnesses, compromised immune systems, or disabilities. OC leadership must act immediately to prevent a public health crisis.

Join us in urging OC officials to implement recommendations put forth in a letter signed by over 20 community-based organizations and groups.

Message Recipients:

Orange County Board of Supervisors
Sheriff-Coroner Don Barnes
Todd Spitzer, District Attorney
Erin Winger, Deputy Director of Correctional Health Services
Richard Sanchez, Director of Health Care Agency

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Your Message

As an OC resident, I join the ACLU SoCal, Transforming Justice Orange County and over 20 community-based organizations and groups in demanding you take immediate action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in OC jails and the community at large.

OCSD should adhere to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations regarding social distancing, sanitation, cleaning, and disinfecting. Those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly, people who are pregnant, people who are immunocompromised, and others with underlying health issues should be given special attention, including priority release.

We cannot wait for confirmation that COVID-19 has entered our jails before making the decision to act. We must reduce the risk of transmitting the virus between jail facilities and the community, and vice versa. I urge you to take immediate and decisive action to save lives.


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