California Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson ordered Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes on Friday to reduce the incarcerated people's population by 50%.
"The uncontested facts found here include that conditions in the jail do not permit proper social distancing, there is no mandatory testing of staff or asymptomatic detainees after intake, and no strictly enforced policy of requiring masks for all staff interaction with inmates," Wilson said. "This very unfortunate development confirms the need to take all reasonable steps to ensure that if an outbreak occurs at the Jail, that outbreak is contained to the fullest extent reasonably possible."
Wilson ordered Barnes to release a plan by December 31 that would list all medically vulnerable inmates and identify what preventative measures would be implemented to protect remaining inmates. Wilson is also requiring Barnes to strictly enforce mask-wearing and social distancing for all staff members.
Wilson's orders are to be kept "until the current COVID-19 emergency is declared terminated."
"If the order stands, it will result in the release of more than 1,800 inmates," said Barnes. "Many of these inmates are in pre-trial status for, or have been convicted of, violent crimes and will be released back into the community. This order puts our community at substantial risk and does not take into account the impact on the victims of these crimes."
🔦 Last week, Barnes said he would not enforce California's newest lockdown restrictions.