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Five years later: Some fear Orange County jail snitch scandal will go unpunished

James Queally, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Barnes, a 30-year veteran of the department, said he believes the agency has been forthright in handling the mistakes alleged during the Dekraai trial, while dismissing some criticisms from the ACLU and Sanders as "brazen."

As undersheriff, Barnes said, he helped modify department policy and training governing the use of informants in the county jails, which now requires his written approval. While not defending the department's past actions, he said he also believes the agency has been unfairly accused of being resistant to change.

"The unit that existed then, I stopped it," he said. "We replaced it with highly qualified people that look at information within the jails differently than it was handled before."

Barnes also defended the promotions of Jon Briggs and William Baker, both of whom had oversight roles in the jails at the time, to the position of assistant sheriff. Briggs had testified during the Dekraai trial that poor supervision contributed to problematic behavior in the jails, though Barnes said that was taken "out of context." The sheriff described Baker as "part of the solutions team" put in place to fix issues in the jails.

Spitzer said he understands the frustrations felt by those who have spent years waiting for the conclusion of investigations, but added: "I've got to let this process play out."

For Wilson, however, patience has long run out. He doesn't want to see others endure the same denial of justice he feels he suffered.

 

"I know how hard it was for myself and my kids and Christy's family to deal with all of this," he said, referring to the years after the murder of his wife. "I went through a really rough experience with those other families. I don't want it to happen to anyone else."

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