A California sheriff is defying what he describes as an “absurd” order from a local Superior Court judge who ordered that 1,800 inmates be released due to COVID-19 despite the fact that some of them are locked up for murder and child molestation.
“I have no intention of doing that, of releasing those individuals back into the community. I think they pose a serious threat,” Sheriff Don Barnes of Orange County told “Fox & Friends.”
The judge issued this ruling in response to a lawsuit that was filed back in April by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an attempt to protect disabled and medically vulnerable people at the Orange County Jail. Barnes said in his new interview that he is planning to repeal the order.
“We’ve released 1,400 inmates to date since March for low-level offenders. The only inmates remaining now are serious offenders,” he said. “Of the medically vulnerable, 90 of them are in custody for murder or attempted murder, 94 for child molestation.”
Judge Peter Wilson specifically attacked Barnes in the order, writing that the sheriff’s “deliberate indifference to the substantial risk of serious harm from COVID-19 infection to … medically vulnerable people in [his] custody violates their rights.”
Barnes, however, was not having any of it.
“Everybody in the community is at risk of COVID right now,” Barnes fired back at the judge, adding, “not considering the risk to the public they present by being released back into the community, I think is not only absurd, I think it places the community at significant risk …”
Not stopping there, Barnes also claimed that the judge was wrong in saying that the jail was not testing for the coronavirus or providing a safe environment.
“He got a lot of his facts incorrect,” Barnes explained. “We have been testing inmates. We have been so far ahead of the curve when it came to best practices within our jails. We mitigated our COVID crisis from 220 in March to zero as of last Monday.”