Administrators at the main Orange County Jail in Santa Ana discriminate against black inmates by sharply limiting their ability to gain early release through good behavior, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People contended Monday.
ACLU attorney Dick Herman filed court papers in which he sought to expand a pending case into one representing all black inmates in the men's jail, saying that blacks' rights are violated because they are not allowed work assignments in kitchen crews.
"The sheriff is well aware of the problem,' Herman said.
"We've been in negotiations with the sheriff and county officials and the sheriff's lawyers for almost a year over the issue and finally last week we delivered a stipulation that they end the practice, which they refused to sign," Herman said.
A spokesman for Sheriff Brad Gates could not be reached for comment.
Inmates can earn time off for good behavior by working in jail, and the majority of such work involves kitchen crews, Herman said.