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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Judge denies request to halt early jail releases

    Published: Feb. 18, 2010
    Updated: 4:19 p.m.

    Judge denies request to halt early jail releases

    By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ
    THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTERS

    SANTA ANA – A judge today denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented county inmates from reducing their sentences by up to half through good-behavior credits.

    The decision, issued by Superior Court Judge Steven Perk, dealt a blow to the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, which sued the county to stop the early release of inmates under a new law.

    "We're very disappointed," said Wayne Quint, president of the deputies' union, which represents about 1,800 deputies.

    The new state law, which took effect Jan. 25, allows county inmates to earn up to one day off their sentences for every day served for good behavior and through the completion of other programs. Before the law took effect, inmates could trim up to one-third from their sentences.

    The Orange County lawsuit is similar to a case being heard in Sacramento County, deputies' unions have sued their respective counties to halt the early release of inmates through the new law. Both of the unions are being represented by the same law firm - Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnsen.

    But the cases have taken differing paths. While a Sacramento County judge granted a temporary restraining order halting the releases last week, Perk declined to issue one Thursday afternoon, stating that the deputies' union had not shown that there had been "irreparable harm done" or that the union would likely succeed in obtaining a permanent injunction.

    Perk also asked whether the sheriff's department, and not the county, should be the defendant named in the lawsuit.

    "Even if I issue an order, how does the board of supervisors order the sheriff on how to run the jail," Perks asked in court.

    The argument was echoed by Wendy Phillips, an attorney who represents the county.

    "The county is the wrong defendant," Phillips said.

    But David Mastagni, who represented the deputies' union, argued that the sheriff's department is a political branch of the board of supervisors and both were represented by the county attorney.

    Mastagni asked in court about adding the sheriff's department as a defendant in the suit.

    Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has said she opposes the new law, but as sheriff, she is bound to uphold it. More than 400 Orange County jail inmates have been released early since the law took effect, most having their sentences shaved by only a few days.

    Mastagni argued that a temporary restraining order was necessary because the release of inmates posed a threat to public safety and deputies themselves. He also said the new state law violated the Victim's Bill of Rights Act of 2008, and placed deputies in a position of either ignoring a direct order, or violating the victim's bill of rights by releasing inmates early.

    Phillips disagreed, stating that the damages and threats that were referred in the suit were hypothetical.

    Despite the judge's decision, Mastagni said the law firm and deputies' union where pleased by Attorney General Jerry Brown's opinion earlier this week that the new good behavior credits should not be applied retroactively to time served Jan. 25.

    "We've already succeeded in part, at least in stopping or slowing down the surge of releases," he said.

    Still, the judge's decision was disappointing, Quint said.

    "If one of the 400 (inmates) that got released committed a violent crime, they would stop it," he said.

    A hearing date has been set for March 12 on the union's request for a preliminary injunction to halt the releases.

    Contact the writer: shernandez@ocregister.com or 949-454-7361

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/county-2 ... mates.html
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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    The Sheriff's Deputy Union doesn't want the county jail inmates released for the same reason the State Prison Guards Union doesn't want the prison inmates released, they will make less money because there won't be as many inmates to watch so they won't get as much overtime.
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