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Judge Praised Jail Solutions, Vasquez Says

December 16, 1987|DAVE LESHER | Times Staff Writer

U.S. District Judge William P. Gray, in an informal meeting Tuesday with Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez, praised the county's recent efforts to comply with his orders to end jail overcrowding.

The judge was "very much impressed with the progress we have made," Vasquez said, "and is pleased that we have been responsive, which is something he felt was lacking in the past."

He said that the 35-minute discussion was general and that specific issues involved in the county's litigation were not discussed.

Vasquez said he requested the meeting a few weeks ago because he wanted direct feedback on recent county decisions to mitigate jail overcrowding.

'On Right Course'

"I wanted a better understanding of what we might be able to do to address the court's concerns," Vasquez said. "It is my perception that we are proceeding on the right course."

Because of the litigation, the judge also invited attorneys to the meeting. Three attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and Deputy County Counsel Edward N. Duran attended.

ACLU attorney John Hager said the dialogue was entirely between Vasquez and Gray. "It was a how-are-we-doing type of thing," Hager said.

In recent months the county has taken several steps to mitigate jail overcrowding.

A new 480-bed jail and intake-release center adjacent to the main county jail in Santa Ana recently was completed. The $69-million facility is expected to be filled soon.

Two weeks ago, supervisors voted to expand the county's Theo Lacy branch jail in Orange from about 800 inmates to 1,437.

And in July, on a 3-2 vote, supervisors decided to build a 6,000-bed maximum-security jail complex in Gypsum and Coal canyons.

Both Hager and Vasquez said Gray contrasted the supervisors' recent actions with the county's response to his orders in the past. In March, 1985, Gray found the supervisors and Sheriff Brad Gates in contempt of court for not taking steps to end overcrowding.

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