California's Sanctuary Law Prompts Sheriff to Make Inmates' Data Public

SB 54 prompts Orange County Sheriff's Department to publicly post inmate data

The Orange County Sheriff on Monday announced that thanks to California's so-called 'Sanctuary State law" SB-54, the department would begin providing data to the public about when inmates will be released from custody. 

The new data was added to an already existing online database that listed who was currently in custody. The "Who's in Jail" online database now has the dates and times for when inmates will be released, with the goal of that public information being used by federal immigration agents to pick up anyone who should be deported out of the country. 

The online database by sheriff's department covers all inmates currently being held and not just those suspected of being in the country illegally. 

“This is in response to SB-54 limiting our ability to communicate with federal authorities and our concern that criminals are being released to the street when there’s another avenue to safeguard the community by handing them over (to ICE for potential deportation),” Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes told the Orange County Register.

SB-54 passed both houses of the California legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last November. At the time of the bill's passage, Brown said the bill wouldn't prevent ICE or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their jobs. 

"They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California. Moreover, the bill does not prohibit sheriffs from granting immigration authorities access to California jails to conduct routine interviews, nor does it prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offenses listed in the TRUST Act.

"These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,'' he said.

Citing SB 54 as the reason for the new release, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said SB 54 was inconsistent with widely accepted best practices of open communication among all levels of law enforcement. SB 54 prohibited law enforcement officials from communicating with ICE agents about when a suspected illegal immigrants would be released from custody.

“SB 54 makes local law enforcement’s job more difficult and requires bureaucratic processes that could allow dangerous individuals to fall through the cracks of our justice system,” said Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. “My department, however, remains committed to cooperating fully with federal authorities in all areas where I have discretion to remove serious criminals from our community.”

The Orange County Sheriff's Department isn't the only agency to rebel against California's sactuary laws. Last week, Los Alamitos voted to exempt the northern Orange County city from the state law. Other cities in Orange County they also are considering ordinances to express their displeasure at the law. Shawn Nelson with Orange County Board of Supervisors says the board is also considering taking action against the state, even floating the possibility they might file a lawsuit

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a lawsuit against the state of California naming Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra over three of its recently passed "sanctuary laws" - including SB 54, AB 450, and AB 103. The Justice Department is asking the judge to inviolate the laws and block enforcement of them, pointing to provisions in the Constitution that give the federal government supremacy over immigration policies and laws. 

If you'd like to see the release dates of inmates for yourself, you can check it out at

Photo: Getty Images

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