The court-ordered deadline for relieving overcrowding at the Orange County Jail and providing each prisoner with a bed each night has come and gone, and the county is still unable to comply.
Whether U.S. District Judge William P. Gray extends the deadline or grants the county request to suspend further fines, or at least let any fines be used to improve jail conditions, remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The county must still find ways to reduce the overcrowding in the County Jail.
The best solution is to build a new jail. The county intends to do that. But new lockup facilities appear to be still at least a couple of years away. So other alternatives must be used beyond those already employed to ease the current overcrowding.
Some of those alternative approaches are the diversion and prisoner-release programs that other counties have used. For example, hundreds of prisoners booked on alcohol-abuse charges are better treated for their medical problem at a detoxification center than as criminals locked up in jail.