Today, at a special meeting the Irvine City Council unanimously voted to file an amicus brief in response to a December 11, 2020 court order that requires an early release of up to 50 percent of the inmates currently held in Orange County jails. The City of Irvine’s “friend of the court” statement challenges the court order as written, suggesting instead that it is possible to protect the health and safety of inmates without releasing them.
“Through social distancing and protective practices that follow CDC, State of California, and Orange County Public Health guidelines, the Sheriff’s Department can protect the health and well-being of theses inmates; keeping them safe from COVID-19 without compromising public safety,” said Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan.
The Orange County Superior Court found that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has been inconsistent in its application of health protection measures in the jails, including social distancing, COVID-19 testing, and enforcement of universal mask wearing.
“The solution here is to put in place a strategy that eliminates those inconsistencies, not to release half of the Orange County jail population,” Mayor Khan said.
Irvine’s amicus brief will be filed with the appellate court on December 22, 2020. If the appellate court does not stay the superior court ruling, the County of Orange will be required to file a “Release Plan” to reduce the jail population by 50 percent, or approximately 1,800 inmates.