- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A deputies union has sued the Orange County Sheriff’s Department alleging that staff reductions and unsafe conditions helped lead to the brazen escape of three inmates from a jail in California.

The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs filed the lawsuit ahead of anticipated changes at Central Men’s jail following the Jan. 22 escape of Hossein Nayeri, Bac Duong and Jonathan Tieu, the Orange County Register reported Friday (https://bit.ly/1TcOQUm).

The inmates have since been rearrested.

In the lawsuit, the union says the department had reduced staffing at the maximum-security jail and a deputy was no longer assigned to the roof of the building, which was used for inmate recreation.

The roof was critical to the inmates’ escape plan. Authorities have said the trio cut through a metal grate and moved behind jail walls to reach the roof, then rappelled down four stories to freedom using a rope made of bed linens.

Jailers did not realize the inmates were missing for 16 hours.

Lt. Mark Stichter, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman, said staffing is being reviewed after the jailbreak.

The suit also alleges that contractors working in the jail in the past have accidentally left behind saw blades in inmate areas and that radio communication inside the jail is poor.

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Information from: The Orange County Register, https://www.ocregister.com

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