Sheriff’s Department to Resume Limited Visiting in Orange County Jails

March 26, 2021 Updated: March 26, 2021

The Orange County Sheriff’ Department (OCSD) March 26 will begin allowing public visits at its jails, on a limited basis, for the first time in a year.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said earlier this week that the protocols he implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the jails have been successful, allowing him to “open cautiously, on a scaled basis.”

Inmates will be able to get one visit per month initially, he said.

“We understand the value of visitation and know those in our custody and their loved ones have been impacted over the last year as we navigated the challenges of COVID-19,” Barnes said. “We look forward to reinstating visiting in a way that is safe for all.”

As of March 25, there were no inmates infected with the virus, according to OCSD officials, who were awaiting results of 455 tests. At the height of the virus breakout in the county’s jails at the end of December, there were 1,240 infected inmates.

Barnes has released 1,700 low-level offenders since the pandemic started last March. He said this week he opposes the American Civil Liberties Union’s efforts to compel the release of more inmates to help curb the spread of COVID-19 “because I believe they represent a significant risk to the community if released.”

The OCSD will continue to reassess procedures to determine further expanding visiting practices, Barnes said.

Visiting at all facilities is by appointment only; no walk-ups allowed. Members of the public wishing to visit an inmate must call and make an appointment at the facility where the inmate is housed. Newly booked inmates under mandatory 14-day quarantine, and those housed in medical isolation or quarantine will not be eligible for visitation.

When calling to schedule, it is recommended to have the booking number of the inmate, which can be searched through an online database link. Visitors should be prepared to provide a contact phone number in case of housing changes or other incidents occur that could affect the visit.

Two adults and two minors will be permitted to visit any one inmate. All facilities will require face coverings and have screening procedures in place. Face coverings will not be provided.