Orange County Sheriff Hutchens says ACLU report not a factor in retirement

SANTA ANA, (KABC) -- Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said her decision not to seek re-election next year had nothing to do with a scathing report on the county jail system or other problems plaguing her department.

Hutchens announced her decision to retire on Tuesday, the same day the ACLU released a report which alleged abusive and inhumane conditions in the Orange County jails.

But she dismissed the ACLU report nearly point-by-point during a news conference Wednesday and said her decision to not run had been made months ago.

"One had nothing to do with the other," Hutchens said. "You don't wake up one day and decide, hey today I'm going to announce I'm not going to run."

The report compiled interviews from more than 120 current and former inmates, which the sheriff says represents a tiny percentage of total bookings.

"The ACLU report to me has no value."

She also says her staff was never contacted.

"Many of the claims and allegations in the report are inaccurate or purposely distorted."

The sheriff's announcement to not run again in 2018 also comes while allegations of an illegal jailhouse informant program are being investigated by the attorney general and the Department of Justice. A grand jury called it a myth.

Hutchens said that, too, was not a factor in her plan to retire.

Hutchens was first hired by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2008, after 29 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. She replaced former Sheriff Mike Carona who resigned after he was indicted on corruption charges.

She was the first female to lead the agency. She later won elections for the post in 2010 and 2014.

Hutchens says she's proud of the work she's done over the last decade and is confident she's leaving the department in a good place.

She noted that when her term ends and her elected successor takes over in 18 months, "I will have had 40 and a half years in law enforcement and I think that's enough."
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