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‘Putting Things Right’ at the County’s Overcrowded Jail

I am writing in response to The Times editorial “Putting Things Right at the Jail” (May 24).

I concur that the “best solution is to build a new jail.” This provides the only really workable long-range solution to the chronic overcrowding at the Orange County Jail, but that does not mean the alternatives to incarceration discussed in the editorial are not worthy of implementation.

On the contrary, most of the “diversion and prisoner-release programs” discussed in the article are already functioning in Orange County. The only exception is a public-funded post-arrest detoxification program.

Use of these programs substantially reduce the number of prisoners held in custody.

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The editorial gives the erroneous impression Orange County criminal justice administrators are merely sitting on their hands waiting for the “best solution” to materialize.

This certainly is not the case.

Both after-arrest and after-conviction diversion programs have been and will continue to be utilized whenever possible, to decrease the overcrowded jail population.

We all must realize these alternatives to incarceration can only safely absorb a percentage of the prisoners without creating additional risk factors for Orange County communities.

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No single solution or alternative will provide a quick answer to chronic overcrowding conditions at the Orange County Jail.

BRAD GATES

Sheriff-Coroner

Orange County

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