Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens lashed back at a report alleging unhealthy and violent conditions in the county jail system, saying the critique relied on questionable accounts by former inmates and painted an inaccurate picture of jail operations.
Hutchens, who said Tuesday that she won’t seek re-election next year, said she wanted to personally rebut the ACLU report. She said she also wanted to say her retirement decision has nothing to do with probes of the department, including investigations of alleged misuse of informants.
In its 104-page report released hours before Hutchens announced her retirement, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged that deputies often use excessive force against inmates, instigate violent confrontations among prisoners, house inmates in unsanitary conditions and deny inmates adequate health care. The report’s authors called for Hutchens’ immediate resignation and recommended numerous changes at the sheriff’s department, including the creation of an independent civilian commission to review jailhouse complaints.
But Hutchens, flanked by top jail staff, called the findings “inaccurate or purposely distorted” and issued a point-by-point response to its allegations.
She noted that the jails are routinely inspected by at least four government agencies and said those reviews have generally resulted in positive reports. Inmates have access to numerous round-the-clock medical and mental health services, she said, adding inmates are provided nearly 18,000 healthcare appointments each month. She also said her department already has implemented 107 of the report’s 108 recommendations. The only proposal that hasn’t been implemented is the civilian review commission, she said.