Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens won't seek re-election

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Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens says she won't seek re-election next year as the department struggles with an image tarnished by a brazen jailbreak and criticism of jail conditions.

Hutchens announced Tuesday that she's retiring and endorsing Undersheriff Don Barnes to take over the 3,800-member department.

Hutchens was appointed in 2008 to cover the remaining term of Sheriff Michael Carona, who resigned and was convicted of corruption. She won election in 2010 and was praised for reforms.

However, the Sheriff's Department was criticized last year after three inmates cut and climbed out of jail and spent a week on the run.

The department also has been accused of illegally using jail informants to obtain confessions and on Tuesday, the ACLU issued a report alleging guard abuses and unsanitary jail conditions.

In a note shared by the department on Twitter, Hutchens noted her 40 years in law enforcement and her 10 years as sheriff.

"I look forward to continuing to lead the Orange County Sheriff’s Department over the next 1 1/2 years and working with the men and women of the department to provide for the public safety of our community," she wrote.


With contributions from KPCC staff

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