An Inquiry into Inmate Abuse in LA Jails Finally in Progress

Those civil libertarians, banging on about inmate abuse inside Los Angeles County jails for years, have finally seen their cause come under scrutiny. Did it take so long because regular citizens think it's okay for sheriffs to beat inmates? Let's face it, they did something wrong to get in there, right?

Yes, these people have done wrong to society. But their punishment is to be incarcerated, not beaten in addition to having their freedom restricted. So for a deputy to taze an inmate and claim that he was trying to prevent the inmate from escaping, then to be proved lying by the video (where he's shown tazing the handcuffed inmate a second time) is reprehensible.

So when the FBI started an investigation, it shouldn't have just been the civil libertarians who showed excitement, it should have been every person with any scrap of humanity. But perhaps that shows our liberal bias? It's hard to seem nonchalant while under investigation by the FBI, but Sheriff Lee Baca pulled it off, downplaying the extent of the abuse.

His turnaround was pretty sharp though. He started out by saying "We are the most progressive law enforcement agency in America when it comes to accountability." Yet he followed it up at the end of last week with this quote when interviewed by the Los Angeles Times: "I wasn't ignoring the jails. I just didn't know. People can say, 'What the hell kind of leader is that?' The truth is I should've known. So now I do know."

That wasn't enough, not for Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, who are proposing a panel similar to the Christopher Commission that took a hard look at the LAPD after the Rodney King beating. And we agree with Yaroslavsky: "Deep and long term solutions to our problems in the jail need to be articulated frankly, publicly, with a group of independent citizens."

And here's why: since Baca is independently elected by L.A. County voters, he would be under no obligation to follow any recommendations by Supervisors or by a citizen's commission. But the idea is that this kind of panel would carry enough political weight to apply enough pressure to make Baca instigate some changes.

The witness accounts are shocking, even from inmates who were only in a county jail for a week or so before charges were dropped, and even prison chaplains. And according to Merrick Bobb, special counsel to the board of supervisors for about 20 years, the big part of the problem is not the few deputies who are engaging in excessive use of force, it's the large number of deputies that cover it up.

Of course, this is a huge abuse of power by the deputies at the Los Angeles County jails, and we feel it doesn't matter if the abuse of power is directed at our criminals, it needs to be stopped.

Have you been the victim of police brutality, in prison or on the streets? Have you had your civil rights violated by the police, or another citizen? Have you been accused of a crime you haven't committed? Please call the Law Offices of Glew & Kim immediately after shooting on 866-416-2161, or use our online form for a Free Case Analysis. We believe in equal access to justice for all, and we're here to help.

- See more at: http://glewkimlaw.com/blog/2011/10/18/an-inquiry-into-inmate-abuse-in-la-jails-finally-in-progress/#sthash.0zqyN3MZ.dpuf