The County of Orange has been sued, scolded and ordered to reduce jail overcrowding for years. Just as regularly, attempts to expand the number of beds at the James A. Musick Facility in Irvine have been met with resistance–and court battles–from that city and nearby Lake Forest.
It's happening again: Irvine is reportedly suing the county over a plan to add 512 beds to the minimum-security jail.
Irvine contends proper environmental reviews have not been done before the proposal to expand moves forward. The last one was done in 1988, long before changes to the character of the area around Musick, which now includes an Orange County Great Park that did not even exist back then.
That's not all that has changed. Musick currently has 1,250 beds, but the county Board of Supervisors in December approved a $100 million upgrade. Adding another 500+ would still keep the population below 2,000, but Voice of OC was recently handed documents from Irvine City Councilman Jeff Lalloway that show Sheriff Sandra Hutchens plans to push the number of inmates up to 3,100 by 2018.
Meanwhile, according to those same documents the Voice of OC says it has seen, part of the facility under the initial expansion could include holding
cells for violent criminals–the inmates most like to try to escape–for
up to a week while they await transfers. That
flies in the face of previous negotiations where Hutchens reportedly
vowed to Irvine officials maximum-security prisoners would never be held
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.