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ACLU Sues LA County Sheriff

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, according to a Wall Street Journal article printed yesterday.  The LA Sheriff’s Department, which operates five LA County correctional facilities including the Men’s Central Jail – the largest jail in the world in terms of population –  is accused in the lawsuit of widespread abuse and mistreatment of inmates.  More than a simple rights violation complaint, the ACLU contends that guards engage in systematic abuse of incarcerated persons and exhibit a “gang mentality” in their behavior.

This is not the first accusation the LA County Sheriff has encountered.  In fact, the sheriff’s deaprtment asserts as much, telling the Wall Street Journal that “the suit contains no new allegations than the ones that have been leveled against the department for years.”

From the WSJ article:

The department has been accused of jail abuses for decades—well before Mr. Baca was elected sheriff in 1998. Under a federal decree resulting from an overcrowding suit, the ACLU has been monitoring treatment of inmates for years. Since at least 2008, the ACLU has issued reports alleging inmate abuse.

Considering the state prison realignment currently underway in California, it will be interesting to see how the sheriff’s department handles (or remedies) the accusations put forth in this suit.  As of the end of 2011, the LA County jail system had been receiving nearly extra 235 inmates per week as a result of the state’s realignment plan, according to an assistant sheriff.  With the state still under budgetary strain, it will be difficult for LA County to draw down the resources it would need to accommodate the extra inmates.  The same quantity of staff guarding an increasing number of inmates presents a potentially toxic correctional environment.

Of course, the Supreme Court ruling that prompted California’s realignment plan was not designed to shift the burden from one correctional agency (the CDCR) to another (the LA County Sheriff’s Dept.), but rather to compel the state to improve living and health care conditions for inmates in its care.  Hopefully, the LA County Sheriff’s Department can halt the alleged abuses before they face a similar edict.

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16 Comments

  1. Malika salaam

    April 17, 2017 - 5:43 pm

    I understand. Why he in there one stupid choose to go with friends for one night he trouble with the law. But pay with he life now

  2. Sondra

    February 13, 2012 - 3:28 am

    you might also try the commission on safety and abuse in American prisons. Maybe they can help. Good luck to you.

  3. Sondra

    February 13, 2012 - 3:15 am

    If you know that someone in the unit is being abused can you call their local law enforcement (other than the prison employee’s) to go out and take a report? I have called 911 before when my son was in jail with a severe staph infection. ( I promise you it worked) It is there job to serve and protect, I was just curious.

  4. toohot4u

    February 12, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    If you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime.

  5. Lani Bane

    February 10, 2012 - 2:03 pm

    If you want to help, sign my petition against State Prisons to stop the abuse and mistreatment of Inmates. Go to Change.org and sign now! Thankyou!

  6. arona

    February 10, 2012 - 3:49 am

    it’s all about not stepping on a nyone’s toes”i want to keep my job ” i need this job so i’ll just turn the other way while someone’s child is getting raped or being mistreated in solitary confinement 23 hrs a day. maybe he has a real fine body build maybe i am jeaulous and i won’t do or say anything while his store is being with held and the food he is being brought is not enough nor fit enough even for an animal..maybe that’s why he’s starving and withering away…and locked in a cage 23 hrs in a day this says a lot about the people running our prison sysytem and maybe whomever you write to for help just won’t do anything or maybe they just won’t respond or maybe they will but their response does not help you or your loved one .oh but i forgot they work for the prison system too..

  7. arona

    February 10, 2012 - 3:37 am

    i totally agree with florence..you couldn’t have said that any better…what can we do about it?

  8. arona

    February 10, 2012 - 3:35 am

    please won’t someone help??????

  9. arona

    February 10, 2012 - 3:33 am

    it also amazes me how they made such a big deal about the prisoners of guatemala being abused and mistreated but not one american politician can make a big deal about our american prisoners young boys and girls young men and women being abused and mistreated in the prison systems…in our goold ole american prisons,Don’t misunderstand me the murderers child killers/child molesters etc they need to be dealt with differently ,but it seems that they get the best deals and the lil peons get the worst end of the stick and they are scarred for life..somebody help them

  10. arona

    February 10, 2012 - 3:26 am

    the whole systems are a Joke.I t is rally sad that prisoners are mistreated , abused ,civil rights are taken away and noone will help.you are given numbers to call but noone helps you or your loved one.I do not understand how people can live with themselves if they know prisoners are not being treated fairly /abused, raped ,beaten etc something has got to be done i am glad that the aclu is suing i wish they would come to texas and help .I beleive that there are sick minds to enjoy prisoners being beat down lower than they are already. I think it speaks a lot about who is running the prison s.

  11. Elaine Search

    February 7, 2012 - 12:21 am

    I am a woman who was incarcerated over 25 yrs ago for murder. I shot and killed my abusive, addicted ex-husband in self defense. I was tried by a Judge In Dallas Tx during election time. I was not able to buy my way out of prison. After family paid out $50k for my initial defense(Bad attorney defense). At that time the law would not premit to allow into evidence the abuse that lead up to the day I shot him. Bottom line I was rail road. During that time the prisons were just more about rehablitation. Not the prison system are the largest industry in the state of Texas. When the oil industry went bust in the 80’s the went to each county that previously would have never considered a prison within their cities were open to the prison’s fueling their local economy’s. Now prison’s are about punishment instead of rehablitaion. I received a college degree and vocational. That was a major part in me staying out of prison the last 25 years. The men force young guys into being sex objects. The officers turn their head and allow this sexual abuse to go on. Because its a form of management for the system. The public could care less that I young and most non violent offenders are put in with older and aggressive violent abusers. The men get raped then they are release and society wonders way they are now more and more violent. If you look within the State system you will see very few inmates who have money. It’s the poor that pay the price. The rich are able to buy their way out of prison. As bad as it is in our prison system, believe it are not its still one of best in the world. I’ll just have to live with my misjustice in life!

  12. Florence Cathcart

    February 3, 2012 - 9:55 am

    This is no surprise to me. The prison system no longer has a focus on rehabilitation, only on punishment. And since many states are now going to privately owned prisons, it is also a money making business. They don’t want to see the inmates released because then they lose money. Also, the law only works in favor of those within it–police, lawyers, judges etc. They can bend or break the law and they will never be convicted. No one cares what happens to prisoners.

  13. Kathy

    January 30, 2012 - 11:38 pm

    This is happening everywhere. My son went from an athletic 175 lbs. to 155 in approx. 1 month from being starved in a county jail in Michigan. This was only one cruel and unusual punishment they put him through. The police are going to do exactly as they want as long as they are allowed to abuse their power. I have even had a power tripping female police officer lie to my employer before because she became pissed off when she tried to speed up and pass my bus on the left and on a city street and almost rear ended me when I tried to make a right hand turn. I have never spent any time in jail either.

  14. Gwen

    January 28, 2012 - 1:41 am

    I have never been in prison, and never will be. However I have had family members do time. My belief is that the correction officers are not hired to abuse inmates. Granted not all are model prisoners, and I’m sure there are policies on what type of punishment should be handed out to an inmate that doesn’t follow prison rules. The inmates are doing their time. Most will be released someday back into society. If they have had to experience abuse along with other downfalls of being incarcerated, what are the chances of them becoming a productive member of society when their time is up? Abuse, physically or mentally does things to a person’s mind that can cause long term damage, making them more apt to be an abuser when they are released. Some rehabilitation and kindness goes along way if indeed an inmate is to be released back into society and be able to function without some type of Traumatic Stress Disorder that was inflicted on them by correctional officer’s abusing and allowing abuse.

  15. MAX SAIDI

    January 26, 2012 - 2:52 pm

    SPEAKING FROM MY PERSONAL EXPRIENCE, THERE IS CONSTANT MENTAL TORTURE AND VERBAL ABUSE. AND TO TOP IT OFF ;THE PRISON GUARDS HAVE FEW SELECT PRISONER TO HARM OTHER INMATES PHYSICALLY. AND WHILE THE FIGHT AND BEATING TAKING PLACE ,THESE SO CALLED PRISON GUARDS LOOK THE OTHER WAY ….
    AND RIGHT BEFORE BEEING RELEASED, WHILE STILL IN THE HOLDING TANK ,THE SAME PRISON GUARDS INTERVIWES YOU ON BEHALF OF ACLU,AND ASK IF YOUR EXPRIENCE WHILE IN CUSTODY WAS FAIR , AND U WERE GIVEN CLEAN CLOTHES AND 3 MEALD PER DAY ,ETC!! OF COURSE THEY ASK FOR YOUR BOOKING # AND YOUR NAMES ,AND SINCE YOU ARE STILL IN THIER CUSTODY ,AND WAITING TO BE RELEASED ,YOU HAVE NO CHOICE BUT GIVING THEM THE ANSWER THAT THEY WANT TO HEAR….

  16. Tia Titus

    January 24, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    If I were you all, I would try investigating the Florida Correctional Facilities. They are being mistreated and abused as well. I never heard of such things that the correctional officers could put their hands on you! The inmates are afraid that their gain time would be taken away amongst other things if a complaint is filed against them. Their rights are being violated. They are given dirty underwear, holes in T-shirts as well as socks and to top it off; there is no soap being issued to cut down on diseases.
    To make this plain. The prison system/industry is a BILLION dollar business and that is all they care about. Obtaining funds through all of the inmates that comes in and out their walls! It is called modern day genocide, if you catch my drift.

    To be exact the Central Florida Reception Center is one of the prisons that needs looking into. Imagine how many other prisons are at stake. For the record, Florida has 140+ prisons. So hearing this story of what’s happening to the inmates in LA County is not surprising.

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