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ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, 213-977-5252, communications@aclusocal.org.

March 27, 2019

Sheriff also Announced Changes in Mental Health Policies in Jails

SANTA ANA — Today, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes announced that his department will terminate its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house detainees at the James A. Musick facility in Irvine and Theo Lacy facility in Orange. In addition, the sheriff announced plans to designate about 500 additional beds in existing jails in the county for mental health treatment.

The ACLU Foundation of Southern California statements on the announcement follow.

Please attribute the following statement to Sameer Ahmed, an ACLU SoCal staff attorney:

"The Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s contract with ICE allows them to imprison up to 958 individuals at the Theo Lacy and James A. Musick facilities. We are profoundly concerned about the fate of the immigration detainees in OCSD's custody, and what the future holds for them. OCSD is wrong to suggest that all individuals must be transferred to other facilities. We demand that ICE release as many individuals as possible to ensure they remain close to their families, friends, communities, and attorneys. Access to counsel is a fundamental right, and transfers of detained individuals who are in the middle of legal proceedings far away from their lawyers undermine this right. We are committed to ensuring that these individuals have access to legal support and that their due process rights are protected."

Please attribute the following statement to Daisy Ramirez, ACLU SoCal’s jails project coordinator in Orange County:

"We agree with Sheriff Don Barnes’ assessment that jails have regrettably become de-facto mental health facilities and support his decision to suspend operations at the James A. Musick Facility. Expanding the mental health system in Orange County, however, will not solve the problem. We urge Sheriff Barnes to prioritize diversion programs to mitigate the entry and re-entry of people with mental health diagnoses and substance use disorders. Locking up people with such conditions is counterproductive to their physical health and mental wellbeing. It is ineffective, costly, and harmful. If our shared goal is reducing recidivism, then we must permanently shut down the Musick facility and allocate savings to community-based programs."

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