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SB 54 prompts Sheriff’s Department to publicly post inmate release dates
SANTA ANA, Ca. (Mar. 26, 2018) – Beginning today, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will make publicly available inmate release dates through the existing “Who’s in Jail” online database. This action will enhance communication between the Sheriff’s Department and our law enforcement partners to remove dangerous offenders from our community.
Senate Bill 54, which took effect on January 1, 2018, placed restrictions on collaboration between local custody operations and federal law enforcement authorities. The legislation specifically prohibited local law enforcement’s communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the release of certain undocumented offenders. This provision of the law increases the likelihood of dangerous offenders being released back into the community. The law, however, does not limit information that is available to the public.
SB 54 provides sheriffs with the discretion to respond to ICE’s requests for notification of the pending release of specified serious offenders under the TRUST Act. Sheriff Hutchens directed staff to respond to requests from ICE for any criminal who meets the specifications. From Jan. 1 to March 19, 168 inmates who fall within this provision have been released to ICE custody.
Sheriff Hutchens joined law enforcement leaders across the state in opposing SB 54 when the legislation was first proposed in December 2016, as provisions in the bill hindered collaborative efforts to remove serious offenders from the community. Additionally, the law is inconsistent with widely accepted best practices of open communication amongst all levels of law enforcement. Both Sheriff Hutchens and Undersheriff Don Barnes actively engaged with legislators to encourage defeat of the bill. While these efforts resulted in the removal of some harmful sections of the bill, the final version limited communication in a way that puts the public at risk.
“SB 54 makes local law enforcement’s job more difficult and requires bureaucratic processes that could allow dangerous individuals to fall through the cracks of our justice system,” said Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. “My department, however, remains committed to cooperating fully with federal authorities in all areas where I have discretion to remove serious criminals from our community.”