A Superior Court judge has authorized the early release of inmates in order to reduce overcrowding in Orange County Jail. Acting at the request of Sheriff Brad Gates, Superior Court Presiding Judge Everett W. Dickey signed an order Friday permitting Gates to release "any particular inmate" up to five days early to alleviate overcrowding. Officials had no immediate estimate of how many inmates may be released early. Dickey's order expires in 30 days. The action came in response to an order by U.S. District Judge William P. Gray, after a report filed last week by a court-appointed special master showed that on three occasions last month the jail population exceeded the 1,500-inmate limit imposed by Gray in an ongoing legal action prompted by conditions at the jail.