You don’t have to watch TV shows to hear about grand political scandals. Orange County jail troubles seem to be popping out of everywhere lately. In the latest addition to the never-ending saga, public defender Scott Sanders recently sat down with OC Weekly to discuss one of the biggest criminal justice scandals in OC history.
What’s Happening in There?
Reporter R. Scott Moxley paints a sad but vivid picture of the OC jail scene…and its tendency toward corruption. Moxley begins with the acts of district attorney Tony Rackauckas, who first took office in 1999.
Rackauckas has a track record of protecting his business companions’ friends from prosecution for their own illegal acts, and naysayers have been known to lose their jobs when they don’t comply. Sarah Hutchens, current head of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, was supposed to be a welcome change to Rackauckas’ deceit. But she wasn’t.
With Rackauckas’ consent, Hutchens attempted to cover up one of the biggest criminal-justice messes in modern California history: the Orange County jailhouse-informant scandal that secretly robbed dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of people of fair trials.
Attorney Sanders helped reveal how some OC jailers and prosecution teams illegally won convictions against defendants who were never the wiser. These teams used informants and snitches to get information, hid evidence that could have aided defendants, and even falsified information. And to top it all off, they vehemently denied any claims of their misdeeds, calling critics “paranoid.”
OC police have arranged scenarios to catch defendants making self-incriminating statements, with hidden cameras. One method is called the Perkins Operation, where a newly arrested suspect is put into a cell with an inmate snitch or an undercover cop. These groups have been exploiting loopholes to gather confessions and pretend information had been found “accidentally” while eliciting illegal deals and rewards.
With All Those Cameras, They Couldn’t Save Danny Pham
It’s not shocking that the spotlight landed once again on the OC Sheriff’s Department in the case of Danny Pham, an inmate who was killed in July in an OC jail cell. OC deputies have been placed on leave after it was revealed that Pham was placed in a cell with an accused double-murderer. This is after investigators launched two separate investigations on the matter.
The department is being accused of not following protocol both in housing locations and cell checks. They face these allegations just months after the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California called out OC jails for reports of excessive violence, harsh treatment of mentally ill prisoners, and unhealthy living conditions.
With this type police misconduct going on, you need an experienced and qualified attorney right away if you’re ever arrested in Orange County. The Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can help. Contact us toll-free at (888) 478-8999.