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Council Supports OC Sheriff’s Challenge to Prisoner Release

The City Council on Friday, Dec. 18 voted unanimously to take legal action in support of Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes’ challenge to a court order regarding the release of inmates.

 The Council voted in a special meeting to direct the City Attorney’s office to file an amicus brief (or join another city’s) early next week in support of the sheriff’s legal challenge.

On Dec. 11, the Orange County Superior Court ordered Barnes to release over 1,000 inmates from County jails (about half of the total inmate population), to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If the order stands, the inmates could be released in January.

The issue is “very concerning for our residents and business,” Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery said. “The Council has received many emails urging support of this action.”

The inmate release would include many convicted of serious, violent crimes, Council members said.

“We know this a difficult time for everyone, given the state of the pandemic,” Avery said. “However, Sheriff Barnes has taken significant action to keep inmates safe. Releasing potentially dangerous criminals into the community is not the answer.”





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