Changing of the Sheriff Badge: Same Old Broken Department

For Immediate Release

June 28th, 2017

Contact:  Carlos Perea, carlos@resilienceoc.org

Changing of the Sheriff Badge: Same Old Broken Department

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Santa Ana, CA — Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced today she will not seek re-election in 2018 and has endorsed Undersheriff Don Barnes to run as her replacement. This comes on the heels of a report by the ACLU of Southern California outlining the conditions of Orange County Jails.

The OC Sheriff’s Department, under Sandra Hutchens leadership, has left a stain on the county that is only expected to continue with Don Barnes who has been Hutchens’ second in command since 2015. The department has been riddled with federal investigations over the past several years for feeding rotten meat to immigrant detainees, having 24 hour solitary confinement of detainees, and constitutional violations regarding the use of jailhouse informants.  Sheriff Hutchens has also defended and pushed for the expansion of immigrant detention in county jails to increase revenue for the department despite concerns over the treatment of immigrants by correctional officers.

It is clear that the main priority of the OC Sheriff’s Department has not been law enforcement, but violations of the law and of the U.S. Constitution. We cannot trust that a change in leadership within the OC Sheriff’s Department will bring about a positive shift in public safety unless there are substantial structural changes within the department as well. These internal and systemic changes must ensure transparency and accountability.

Furthermore, as California has moved to limit police-ICE collaboration and defend Due Process (Sanctuary) Cities, the OC Sheriff’s Department has intentionally moved to undermine these efforts by elected officials. In February of 2017, Don Barnes was one of a group of six California Sheriffs that met with U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions in order to discuss how the Sheriff’s Department could increase their local collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The OC Sheriff’s Department is the only county in California with a 287g agreement with ICE. This is unlikely to change if Sheriff Hutchens’ named successor were to become Sheriff.

“Resilience OC will continue to monitor and hold accountable the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to ensure that the due process rights and human dignity of our immigrant communities is respected and honored.”   – Abraham Medina, Executive Director of Resilience Orange County

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