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Calif. officials: Staffing issues aided inmates escape

The concession comes more than a year after three inmates escaped from the jail by climbing behind walls to the roof and rappelling down using bed linens


Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Sheriff's officials have conceded that inadequate staffing and management of a Southern California jail played a key role in the brazen escape of a trio of inmates last year.

A sheriff's department document shows since then officials have hired nearly 22 new deputies at the jail in Santa Ana, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday.

In this Jan. 23, 2016 file photo, Orange County sheriff's deputies investigate after three jail inmates charged with violent crimes escaped from Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevin Warn, File)
In this Jan. 23, 2016 file photo, Orange County sheriff's deputies investigate after three jail inmates charged with violent crimes escaped from Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevin Warn, File)

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens recently said she agrees with a grand jury panel report that found jail staff ignored security rules and took shortcuts in counting inmates.

On Tuesday, Commander Jon Briggs told the county's board of supervisors that four or five people had been disciplined over the breakout, adding that it should have been discovered by authorities.

The concession comes more than a year after three inmates escaped from the jail by climbing behind walls to the roof and rappelling down using bed linens. They led authorities on a weeklong manhunt throughout California before they were recaptured.

Inmates Hossein Nayeri, Bac Duong and Jonathan Tieu got a 15-hour head start before jail officials realized they were missing, according to the sheriff's department document.

In the jail, deputies who were supposed to conduct random searches and body counts were often redirected to other jobs and the floor where the trio was housed was unmonitored, the report said.

Previously, the sheriff's department had announced plans to install new bars and lights and make other physical improvements to the facility.

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