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Embattled Orange County Sheriff Announces Plans To Retire

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Sandra Hutchens, the current Sheriff of Orange County, announced Tuesday that she will not seek reelection when her term ends in January 2019. This announcement comes on the heels of an ACLU reportalleging violence, abuse, overcrowding and other inhumane living conditions in Orange County jails during Hutchens' tenure.

The ACLU report, a two-year study of the Orange County Sheriff's Department's five jail facilities that was released Tuesday, details an alleged "pattern of neglect" by sheriff and county officials. The report quotes inmates' stories of being verbally harassed, physically attacked, sexually violated and denied medical care by Sheriff's Department deputies. Several gay and transgender inmates reported being placed into involuntary protective custody, while a pregnant inmate reported being denied medical attention for irregular bleeding, only to find out the next day that she'd miscarried. The report includes a flowchart of responsibility that calls for the resignation of Hutchens, who has served as Sheriff since 2008, and demands the appointment of an objective oversight monitor to oversee jail conditions in Orange County.

Hutchens is expected to testify next week about her role in the alleged misuse of jailhouse informants in the case of mass murderer Scott Dekraai, who killed eight people in a 2011 shooting spree at a Seal Beach hair salon. Informant misuse in the Dekraai case was cited in the ACLU report as further evidence of Hutchens' flawed judgment.

The first woman to hold the post of Orange County Sheriff, Hutchens did not attribute her departure to the controversy surrounding the ACLU report, noting that she will serve the remainder of her term and telling the LA Times, "Forty years is enough, it is time to step aside." Still, the ACLU views Hutchens' exit from the Sheriff's Department as a win, with Esther Lim, director of jails for ACLU SoCal, saying in a statement, "For far too long the sheriff's department has balked at doing anything to fix the horrendous conditions in the Orange County jails system, as outlined in the ACLU report. The announcement today by Sheriff Hutchens gives the county an opportunity to finally clean house."