UPDATED 4:55 PM PT — Saturday, May 2, 2020
The district attorney in Orange County is warning residents of seven “high-risk” sex offenders, who have been released due to the pandemic. County officials called them “the most dangerous kind of criminal.”
“We have serious, violent offenders who are being released,” announced Joseph Kinzel, Assistant District Attorney of Kern County.
The seven men spent mere days in jail, instead of the six months required by law.
“With registered sex offenders, there is a reason why they are considered ‘high risk’,” explained Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “It’s because sex offenders do have a proclivity, or a likelihood, to reoffend.”
At one point, those same individuals were also accused of cutting off or tampering with their GPS monitors. Despite this, they were released this week by a court commissioner.
“This court commissioner is continuing to use his ability to cite the pandemic as a reason not to impose the mandatory 180 days,” added Kinzel.
Since early March, Orange County’s jail population has been cut by nearly 45 percent. Supporters of the move claimed it will help “flatten the curve,” while a few believe it will even “improve public health.”
“The more that we can reduce the number of people unnecessarily incarcerated, the more that we can invest on those public health approaches to crime on the front end, in the community, that’ll save us a lot of money and improve public health,” stated Californians for Safety and Justice President Lenore Anderson.
Orange County’s district attorney and sheriff have slammed the move, saying it was unnecessary since county jails aren’t overcrowded. Sheriff Don Barnes confirmed the release of those sex offenders wasn’t authorized by his department.
He noted the move was in no way connected to the measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 in his jail.
The Orange County Superior Court has refused to comment on any case currently before the bench, saying the court is bound by ethical rules.