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Coronavirus Impact on the Orange County, CA Jail System

The United States has surpassed every country in the amount of confirmed Coronavirus cases.  To make matters worse, public health official expect an infection total of 200 million in the United States by the end of this novel virus season.  With estimates as dismal as this, public health officials call for what might be the defining catchphrase of 2020, “social distancing.”  Not only does social distancing require a minimum of six feet clearance between people, it also requires individuals to self-quarantine.  For this reason, inmates in jails and prisons are among the few populations that are exceptionally vulnerable to rapid transmission of this virus.  Orange County Jail is no exception.

As the number of inmates testing positive increases, politicians, advocacy groups, and criminal justice officials debate a variety of safety measures for those who remain incarcerated.  In this debate, two possible solutions have arisen;  (1) release as many inmates as possible to avoid overcrowding; (2) keep inmates in jail while enhancing safety protocols.  An example of this early release program can be found in New Jersey where 1,000 inmates are expected to be released.  Since March 1, 202o  OC Jail has released almost 1000 inmates, with more inmates being released every day.  Additionally, the Attorney General, William Bar, requested a memorandum to divert individuals from the federal prison systems and into home confinement.  Nationwide, officials are discharging low-level offenders in an attempt to conform to social distancing guidelines and relieve the pressure on the jail population.



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