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Sheriff Baca Continues to Shake Up Command Staff, Names New Assistant Sheriff

December 28th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

According to a statement that went out to Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department personnel late Thursday afternoon, Commander James Hellmold will be promoted to the rank of Assistant Sheriff, overseeing three LASD field operations regions, plus both the Detective and Homeland Security divisions. Hellmold, a commander, was leapfrogged over a list of higher ranked department chiefs to land in the A/S spot. His promotion becomes effective on Sunday, December 30.

There was a need for speed since Hellmold will replace Assistant Sheriff Marvin Cavanaugh who announced his January 1 retirement earlier this month.

Cavanaugh was one of those on the LASD command staff who was criticized in testimony before the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence for failing to take action when confronted with the growing crisis of deputy on inmate abuse in the LA County jails. As a consequence, it has been rumored that his retirement was less than voluntary, and that the sheriff was holding him responsible for much of the jails mess.

Of course, the main LASD command staff member singled out by the Jails Commission for sanction is Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. Yet, so far, the undersheriff appears to have escaped any sort of blame by the sheriff for his reported part in the scandal.

Commander Hellmold, who will be replacing Cavanaugh, is a member of the Sheriff’s specially selected Commander Management Task Force, which was sent into the jails to help precipitate reform after the scandal began to heat up.


EDITOR’S NOTE: I realize that all this may seem like so much inside baseball to those who are not obsessive LASD watchers, however Hellmold’s promotion has triggered lots of speculation in and around the department as to what the move may signify in terms of power shifts at the LASD’s highest levels. Thus it is worth noting.

Posted in LASD | 102 Comments »

A Cluster of Post Holiday Must Reads

December 27th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

Yes, yes, we’re still on hiatus, but here are some quick stories that surfaced while everyone was drinking eggnog, and we didn’t want you to miss ‘em.



33 CALIFORNIA TEENAGERS REMIND US THAT 14 KIDS ARE KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE EVERY SINGLE DAY

In the 60-second video above, 33 California teenagers have some strong words about what will or will not help to keep American kids safe.

Here’s a clip from the statement by the video’s sponsors at The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative:

“Don’t lock down our schools,” said one teenager in the video. “A solid plan doesn’t begin and end with who has access to guns and how many police officers we have,” said David Valdez, Director of the Youth Institute at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA, who helped coordinate production of the video.

“Students want schools to be safe,” said Valdez. “But they are wary of solutions that only call for more police in schools. Instead, they’re calling for more school counselors, mentors, health services on school campuses, and other approaches that help young people in need of support.”

An average of 14 young people are murdered every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a U.S. Department of Justice report released last week found that two out of three American youth experienced violence in the last year….


ASSAULT WEAPONS 101

The conversation about guns will continue after the new year, so it helps to have a good, quick primer on the topic of assault weapons for the civilian market. My pal Tom Diaz is arguably the nation’s expert on the topic, and he runs it down cleanly and clearly on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air.

It’s worth your while to listen.


CALIFORNIA PRISONS MODIFY ISOLATION UNIT POLICY, SOME SAY NOT ENOUGH

While the California Department of Corrections is nowhere nowhere close to discontinuing controversial use of isolation cells—or Secure Housing Units (the SHU)—it is experimentally overhauling its system for determining who is put in those units and what they can do to get out.

The Ap’s Paul Elias has the story. Here’s a clip:

Prison officials tossed convicted killer Todd Ashker into California’s notorious Security Housing Unit 25 years ago after “validating” him as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood gang.

He’s still there today, along with some 2,000 other SHU prisoners classified as gang member or associates serving indeterminate sentences in windowless cells in almost complete isolation.

They say their only way out of the 8-foot by 10-foot cells with few creature comforts for many is to inform on other gang members, which they say is really no choice because they face deadly retaliation if they do “debrief.”

A recent system-wide hunger strike by 6,000 inmates called attention to the living conditions of the thousands of prisoners held in the units. But the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says they are the worst of the worst — inmates who when not isolated threaten other inmates and run gang and drug operations from inside prison walls.

Nonetheless, CDCR is in the midst of what it calls a “dramatic” policy shift in how it determines who belongs in isolation and what SHU inmates need to do to return to the general population. It intends to review the case file of thousands of SHU inmates to determine if they should be transferred to better living conditions.

Since October, CDCR officials have reviewed 88 SHU cases and decided that 58 SHU inmates will be transferred. Another 25 have been placed in a “step-down” program and can work for their transfer to the general population….


TOM HAYDEN ON WHY THE FEDS DROPPED THE CHARGES AGAINST ALEX SANCHEZ

Former state senator, Tom Hayden, has some additional thoughts about why the federal charges were dropped earlier this month against well-known gang intervention leader, Alex Sanchez.

Here’s a clip:

In a development few imagined possible, US Attorney Andre Birotte, on December 17, recommended the dismissal of all charges against Salvadoran gang peace leader Alex Sanchez, admitting that the prosecution’s case was “flawed.” Sanchez, his wife and two young children were rousted by police and federal agents at dawn on June 24, 2009, when Sanchez was handcuffed and accused of gang conspiracy to murder and sell drugs.

Those charges were dropped quietly this week, with none of the ceremony and fanfare that occured when Chief William Bratton, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the FBI held a nationally broadcast press conference to announce the indictments three-and-one-half years ago. It was widely assumed, even among leading local civil liberties figures, that Sanchez was either guilty or had zero chance of overcoming the odds. Some feared his indictment would harm the fragile reputation of the gang prevention and intervention program then being launched at City Hall.

The record now shows that the prosecutors knowingly fed false evidence to the grand jury, and failed to admit for three years that their case was wrong on the facts.

Even in admitting its “flaw,” the prosecution vowed its “express intention of re-filing” certain of the dismissed charges against Sanchez. The government has a six-month window to make the decision. Meanwhile, federal judge Dale Fischer has until January 16 to accept or amend the terms of the government’s request.

Posted in prison, prison policy | 6 Comments »

Part 2 of Aero Bureau Audit Reportedly Finds Improper Flights (But Not Much Else) – UPDATED

December 20th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

UPDATED:

(Scroll down for update and Audit}




Part 2 of the much delayed audit of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Aero Bureau, the elite LASD division that oversees the department’s aircraft,
is due to be delivered to the Board of Supervisors on Thursday.

The audit from the office of the County Auditor-Controller, was requested last April by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky after both WitnessLA and the LA Times reported on a list of possible instances of wrongdoing inside the bureau.

From what we understand the audit did not substantiate wrongdoing in the charges of manipulation of flight records to produce overtime, or of retaliation against whistleblowers.

However, the audit reportedly did find that three flights constituted “improper use of resources”, which we presume are the flights that WLA reported on here..

Based on the reports we’ve gotten from multiple sources inside Aero Bureau, we find it surprising that the audit discovered no problems with overtime manipulation, et al. But we’ve agreed to hold our fire, so to speak, until we read the report.

More soon.


UPDATED:

Below you’ll find the audit itself. (And here’s a link, if the embed is slow to load.)

As you will see, with regard to the reported inflating of missed call stats and short-staffing flights to give the impression that more overtime was needed, the auditors state they did not “find evidence that established any of the overtime abuse allegations.”

As for the misuse of aircraft, the auditors say they “selected a sample of three alleged flights that could be considered egregious misuse of County resources, and substantiated the allegations.”

This tends to suggest there were other flights that were also possible instances of “egregious misuse of County resources.”

In any case, after the holidays we plan to check in with some of our Aero Bureau sources and get their reaction to the audit.

Posted in LA County Board of Supervisors, LASD, law enforcement | 28 Comments »

After 3 1/2 Years, Charges Against Alex Sanchez Could Vanish—or Not

December 20th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon


Late on Monday, federal prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss “without prejudice”
all charges against Alex Sanchez, the nationally respected gang intervention leader who was arrested at his Bellflower home in June 2009, as his family looked on fearfully, and indicted under the RICO act for conspiracy to commit murder—among other charges.

For those who had supported Sanchez throughout the three-and-half years since he was indicted, the word that the case that was finally due to come before a jury in June 2013, was now likely to be dismissed, triggered a round of hopeful celebration. However, a closer reading of the Feds’ motion made it clear that, while the they wished to dismiss the old charges, they fully intended to refile new ones.

The prosecutor’s motion to dismiss the case came after Sanchez’ attorney, Amy Jacks, made her own motion to have the case dismissed on grounds that, as the motion stated: “the government presented false evidence to the grand jury issuing the indictment; that a government prosecutor lied to the grand jury in subsequent proceedings; that the government failed, for more than three (3) years, to take any action to formally acknowledge or attempt to correct an indictment based on false evidence; and that government prosecutors withheld from Mr. Sanchez favorable and exculpatory evidence…”

The actual hearing on the matter will be held in mid-January where a judge will presumably grant the Feds’ motion, which states that the prosecutor:

“….seeks the opportunity to correct the mistakes made in the previous grand jury resentation by representing this case to a new grand jury, focusing on the facts likely to be in dispute at trial.”

Barring emergencies or forces majeur, WLA will be at the hearing.


THE LONG MESSY RIDE, THUS FAR

El Salvadoran-born, former MS-13 gang member, Sanchez has been praised in cities across the country as someone who has helped turn around the lives of many, many young men and women. However, according to the government’s original case, the supposedly reformed Sanchez never reformed at all, but remained, in reality, a MS-13 shot caller who ordered at least one murder.

Yet nothing in the past three-and-a-half years of hearings has unfolded without some kind of messy drama. The original judge was removed from the case. And prior to his removal, it took four separate hearings and the interference of the 9th Circuit, before Sanchez’ attorney was allowed to fully present arguments for setting bail for Sanchez.

(Finally, in January of 2010, the judge set Sanchez’s bail at $2 million, an amount that friends and supporters had already raised in the form of surities and property.)

And then there were the perplexing mistranslations from Spanish of the transcript of an wiretapped telephone call central to the case, the glaring omission of a crucial section of the same transcript, a bizarre case of mistaken identity of one of the main people on the call, the abrupt dismissal of one of the prosecution’s most prominent witnesses, “gang expert,” Sergeant Frank Flores, after Flores gave some wincingly error-ridden testimony during a bail hearing….and more in that same vein.

(For the rest of the backstory go here and here. Scroll down a bunch and read from the bottom up.)


AND SO THE MOTION TO DISMISS

In a Monday night statement made after the prosecution filed its motion to dismiss the case, attorney Jacks said that “the evidence [the prosecution] presented to the grand jury does not support the charges brought against Alex…If the court grants the government’s motion, Alex can focus on what he has done so well for many years: helping our community with gang intervention and prevention and promoting peaceful solutions to our conflicts.”

At the moment, however, it still appears that the prosecutors may wish for the opportunity to hit reset on what some believe is likely a fatally compromised indictment.

(They will have six months to refile after the motion is accepted.)

Or maybe after a sober re-look at what evidence remains, the feds will conclude that starting over is a non-starter.

We’ll know more after January’s hearing.


NOTE: In the interest of transparency, it’s important that those of you new to this story know that I consider Alex Sanchez a respected and valued friend. This means that while I work very hard to give readers the most factual possible information on the issue, I also have strong feelings about this case.

Posted in Arresting Alex Sanchez, Gangs | 2 Comments »

LA Jails Deputies Testify Before Fed Grand Jury About Reportedly Hiding an Inmate from the FBI

December 19th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon


A Federal Grand Jury is now investigating whether certain members of the LA County Sheriff’s
Department moved FBI informant, Anthony Brown, from place to place inside the county jail system, giving him phony names and fake inmate numbers, all done specifically to keep him away from his Fed handlers. A convicted bank robber, Brown was reportedly gathering information for the Feds about possible deputy misconduct inside the jails.

The LA Times’ Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard report that Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore explains the whole thing, saying they were only doing this for the inmate’s own good, and in response to his request:

Here’s the relevant clip:

Sheriff’s officials insist that they were not hiding the informant, Anthony Brown, from the FBI but protecting him from other deputies.

Department spokesman, Steve Whitmore said Brown wrote a letter after his identity was discovered, complaining that he feared for his life and felt abandoned by the FBI.

“He was frightened not of inmates but of deputies because he was snitching on deputies,” Whitmore said. “We were moving him around to protect him from any kind of retaliation.”

Yes, well….our sources say otherwise. In fact one of our sources told us he has direct knowledge of what went on because he was part of the team of deputies ordered to participate in the hiding of Anthony Brown. He said unequivocally that there was no ambiguity whatsoever about what he and his fellow team members had been instructed to do:

“Our job was to keep this inmate away from the FBI,” he said.

Moreoever, according to our source, the supervisor who ordered the deputies to hide Brown was Lt. Greg Thompson, the former head of Custody Investigative Services Unit (CISU)—AKA the intelligence-gathering and investigative unit inside the jail system.

(Thompson, if you’ll remember, was the lieutenant accused earlier this year of interfering with a criminal investigation that implicated a deputy working in the jails of wrongdoing. In that instance, Thompson allegedly took the report on the deputy’s actions and, instead of turning it over to the department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau (ICIB) where it belonged, instead gave the unredacted report to the deputy being investigated—among others—thus blowing the investigation entirely.)

According to our source, Thompson announced to the team tasked with hiding the FBI informant, that he, Thompson, “was ordered to do so by Paul Tanaka.”

“He said, ‘It’s our job to keep the FBI our of our jail,’ or, [if they come in] to make it as unpleasant as possible for them.’”

Since our informant admitted he participated in hiding Brown, in talking to us he was acting against self-interest.

However, like so many Sheriff’s Department members who have talked to WitnessLA (or to the LA Times) at risk to themselves, this informant said he contacted us because he was sick of the corruption.

More in this vein after we come back in January.

In the meantime, read the story in the Times for additional details.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Although we keep trying to be on break, we’ll have one more story tomorrow on an unrelated topic that, again, we couldn’t ignore. (After that, we’re fervently hoping for a series of nice boring news cycles.)

Posted in FBI, LA County Jail | 26 Comments »

WitnessLA is Taking a Christmas Break – Back January 4

December 17th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon


As longtime WLA readers know, we usually put up a string of Christmas videos at this juncture,
and invite suggestions of additional musical items from anyone who cares to give them. But, given the events in Newtown, I don’t yet have the heart for the usual fare. Thus I settled on theses offerings from Mr. Springsteen, Mr. Haggard and Mr. Crosby.


If there’s important news on one of the topics we’re following the most closely,
we’ll show up and alert you. So check in from time to time.

And 2013, we have new stories in the works on the LASD, on LA County juvenile probation, and lots, lots more.


In the meantime, may your holidays be filled with friends, family and much warmth.

And may we find a productive national conversation out of these sad days of December 2012.

C.

Posted in Life in general | 2 Comments »

Overwhelming Grief

December 14th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

“‎”A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted…”

- Jeremiah 31:15


Posted in Life in general | 2 Comments »

Mayoral Candidates Talk Neighborhood Safety, Cops, Gang Intervention & More

December 14th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon



On Thursday night LA mayoral candidates allowed themselves to be grilled for nearly two hours on issues
of neighborhood safety and violence prevention by four LA journalists.

Three of the four main candidates—LA City Controller Wendy Greuel, LA City Councilmember, Jan Perry and attorney and former radio host, Kevin James—submitted to questions by KPCC’s Frank Stoltze, the LA Times’ Jim Newton, Pilar Marrero from La Opinion, Stanley Willford from Our Weekly, and Nicole Chang from Korea Daily, who posed her questions via SKYPE. (Warren Olney from KCRW was originally scheduled to attend, but had to bow out.)

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck gave opening remarks then tossed out the first topic of the night when he said that one of the most important issues for him was whether or not the candidates intended to continue to support GRYD, the city’s gang violence prevention and intervention program that is presently housed in the mayor’s office.

Moderator Frank Stoltze made the question one step more specific and asked if the candidates would keep at least the current funding for the GRYD program and maintain the job of heading GRYD as a deputy mayor position.

Wendy Greuel said YES and YES, and followed up by saying that she planned to try to talk existing GRYD head, Guillermo Cespedes, into staying. (Cespedes was in the audience.)

Jan Perry also said YES, and talked about the need to address the trauma faced by kids in the city’s most violence-haunted communities. Kevin James was another YES, but stayed with his theme of the night, which seemed to be “Yes, but…. those City Hall insiders are doing a dreadful job, and can’t balance the budget,” or words to that effect.

In addition, James said that he thought there should be less use of former gang members as gang interventionists, that he would bring in respected community members that kids could look up to and relate to.

At this, the cadres of gang interventionists and community activists in the audience began visibly frowning.

Eric Garcetti had a conflict that night, and so was a No Show but sent his answer to Beck’s and Stoltz’s questions through civil rights attorney, Connie Rice, of the Advancement Project, who related that Garcetti would keep GRYD but move it out of the mayor’s office and, instead, establish it as a commission.

Rice made it clear that she thought the commission idea was a lousy one. In response to her follow-up questioning, all the candidates dutifully thought the idea lousy too.

“This is not something for a commission filled by part time people who have other jobs,” said James, and everyone nodded.

(WLA agrees.)

Other questions ranged from how many LAPD officers each candidate would pledge to keep (Greuel went for the full 10,000 while everyone else hedged), what they thought about gang injunctions and the gang database, and how they would lower crime in Koreatown.

By night’s end, the consensus of many of the gang interventionists and other local activists in the room seemed to be that Perry best understood the concerns of the city’s most violence plagued communities, but that they also liked Greuel, and thought her capible, yet felt that she needed to show up at a few more crime scenes and meetings in the ‘hood to gain credibility. Most thought Kevin James seemed sincere, and had interesting opinions on some topics, but was clueless on others and probably didn’t have a chance anyway.

(Since Garcetti wasn’t there he didn’t factor into the reviews.)

All I spoke with said they appreciated the fact that the candidates had been willing to hang out for more than two hours while these topics of high concern got laid on the table.

The forum was sponsored by the Advancement Project, the California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation, Liberty Hill, the LAPPL, The Riordan Foundation, and a pile of others.


NEW REPORT LOOKS AT THE AFFECT OF VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA ON AMERICA’S KIDS

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney General’s Task for on Children Exposed to Violence presented its sobering report Defending Childhood.

After the first of the year, we’ll be looking much further into what we ought to be taking away from the report’s findings.

In the meantime, California Endowment Pres. Robert Ross writes for the Huffington Post about the importance of what the report has discovered.

Here’s a clip:

<

….At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights took a hard look at school discipline policies and investigated how extreme rules using suspensions push students away from school and toward a life of crime. At the other end of the street, the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence released the findings of a year-long study, reporting on the latest research about the impact of trauma on children’s lives.

Taken together, the two issues sound an alarm for the ways our schools and neighborhoods push kids away from the things we all want and deserve — a good education, a safe neighborhood, and a chance at the American Dream. While all this may seem less immediate than the fiscal cliff, it is every bit as urgent.

Childhood exposure to violence is a national epidemic. Every year, two out of every three of our children — 46 million — can expect to have their lives touched by violence, crime, abuse, and psychological trauma this year. It’s not hard to figure out the negative effects on society. The Task Force on Children’s Exposure to Violence describes something we all intuitively know: that witnessing traumatic events disrupts our ability to function in a healthy way, make good decisions, and move forward in our lives. For kids, the impact of trauma is even more pronounced.

Children exposed to violence are less able to concentrate in class. Their brains are consumed with processing the toxic stress in their lives and are not free to process the important things of childhood, like academic learning and developing critical interpersonal and life management skills.


EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m still absorbing the wealth of information from Wednesday and Thursday’s California Wellness Foundation’s Violence Prevention Conference. More on that in the weeks to come.

Posted in City Controller, City Government, Gangs, LA City Council, LA city government, LAPD, law enforcement, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

BIg Mike Gets Wellness Foundation’s Peace Prize, the LA Weekly Profiles Baca…and More

December 13th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon



THE WELLNESS FOUNDATION CELEBRATES BIG MIKE

Last night, Michael “Big Mike” Cummings was one of the three winners of the California Wellness Foundation’s 2012 Peace Prize, (and the only winner from So Cal).

A mountain of a man with a commanding presence, a grand heart, and excellent sartorial taste in (very large) suits, Big Mike is a former Grape Street Crip turned paster who now runs his own tow-truck service, and is the founder of such community projects as Project Fatherhood, a remarkable program in Watts where, together with my pal UCLA’s Dr. Jorja Leap, he helps troubled men find themselves through becoming better fathers and, in so doing, help their communities.

Congratulations to the incomparable Big Mike Cummings.

[I'll be at the Wellness Foundation's Violence Prevention Conference all day Thursday, but will return with news and bulletins.)


LA WEEKLY CONTRASTS LA'S "TWO MUCH MR. NICE GUY" SHERIFF, LEE BACA, AND HIS "EVERYTHING TO WIN" SECOND IN COMMAND, PAUL TANAKA

The Weekly's Gene Maddeus has a long, must-read story on Sheriff Lee Baca and his Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. Here's a representative clip:

....The jails are just one symptom of a more general decline affecting the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Discipline is lax. Revelations of cronyism are routine. Investigators and plaintiffs' lawyers are combing through every facet of the department's operations.

"It troubles me deeply to see the reputation of the department where it is now," says William T. Sams, a retired sheriff's chief. "It's a pariah in a lot of ways."

Two men bear the greatest responsibility for the department's low standing: Leroy D. Baca and his undersheriff, Paul Tanaka.

Baca is a nice guy. Even his critics tend to begin by saying, "I like the man." Now 70, he has always been quiet, introverted and a little strange. When he was first elected sheriff, in 1998, supporters hailed him as a Zen mastermind. He was overflowing with ideas about how to make policing more humane.

Detractors called him a social worker with a badge, or Sheriff Moonbeam. But progressives adored him, and so did voters. Scandals that would have scarred others' reputations glanced off him. He got another nickname: the Teflon Sheriff.

But Baca was beset by insecurities and self-doubt, which made it hard for him to see his own flaws clearly, much less confront them. He seemed to resolve his self-doubts by banishing them, closing himself off from anything that might disturb his sunny aura.

Early in Baca's tenure, his deputies learned not to express reservations about his ideas — no matter how impractical they were. Eventually, the doubters retired. "Lee has surrounded himself with people who are going to say yes to everything he says," Al Scaduto, a retired chief, says.

Tanaka has become his most trusted aide. In many ways the men are opposites. Tanaka is an accountant, good with details. He's also a cop's cop — aggressive and wary. Unlike Baca, his critics do not claim to like him. In their telling, he's a full-metal asshole, a shouter, a "little Napoleon."


9TH CIRCUIT AGREES TO REOPEN CASE OF BURBANK POLICE WHISTLEBLOWER WHO WAS REPORTEDLY RETALIATED AGAINST BY HIS DEPT. AND SHUT DOWN IN A LOWER APPEALS COURT

Barbara Leonard of the Courthouse News Service has the story about this case. Here're some clips:

The 9th Circuit voted to rehear claims that Burbank, Calif., retaliated against a detective who blew the whistle on abusive interrogation tactics in the department.

Angelo Dahlia claimed that he saw a fellow detective in the Burbank Police Department
stick a gun in the face of a suspect, while squeezing the man's throat and saying, "How does it feel to have a gun in your face, motherfucker?"

Dahlia said he heard yelling and the sound of people being hit as the detective continued to interview suspects.

He said he told Burbank Police Lt. John Murphy that "things were getting out of hand, the interviews were getting too physical, and too many people were doing their own thing and were out of control."

But Murphy allegedly told Dahlia to "stop his sniveling," and the beatings continued.

[BIG SNIP]

Dahlia said he disclosed his colleagues’ abusive interrogation tactics in a May 2009 interview by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Four days later, Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr allegedly placed Dahlia on administrative leave.

Posted in Gangs, LA County Jail, LASD, Sheriff Lee Baca, Uncategorized, Violence Prevention | 41 Comments »

Sen. Ted Lieu Says It Should Be a Felony if Parolees Cut Off GBS Devices

December 12th, 2012 by Celeste Fremon


According to State Senator Ted Lieu,
around 800 California parolees who were assigned GBS monitoring have either cut off their devices, or never kept their appointments to get the things put on the first place.

With these GPS scofflaws in mind, Lieu told KPCC’s Rina Palta, that there needs to be a bigger, badder consequence for not wearing your GPS on when you’ve been assigned one. In January, Lieu plans to introduce a bill to fix the matter.

Here’s a clip from Palta’s story in which Lieu explains the problem:

“It is not a crime, it is a parole violation, and you will get up to 180 days in county jail,” Lieu said. He notes: “when you count in the overcrowded county jails and good time, sometimes they don’t serve any time or sometimes it’s just a few days.”

Under California’s realignment policy, most parole violations are no longer punished with prison time, to avoid overcrowding. But Senator Lieu wants to change the law in this case. He plans to introduce legislation next month to make it a felony to cut off a GPS monitor. Lieu says the threat of serious prison time would be a powerful deterrent.

Frankly, I completely agree. As we’ve made clear here at WLA, we believe that realignment is a positive step forward in much needed corrections and parole reform. BUT, there are parts of realignment that are going to need a lot of fine tuning, this business with the GBS devices being a prime example.

(Non-revokable parole is another important reform that still needs some rejiggering as this new proposal from the LA County Board of Supervisors indicates. But lets us hope that we do it with a scalpel, not a meat cleaver wielded in response to the latest crime. More on that soon. In the meantime, the Daily News has this report)


TUESDAY MORNING I WAS ON AIRTALK WITH LARRY MANTLE, briefly discussing Senator Lieu’s proposed bill.

You can find the podcast here. I’m in the second half of the segment, after my pal Frank Stoltze.

(However, as you will note, I was so stuffy-headed and miserably cold ridden that, at one point, I suddenly called Larry Mantle “Warren”—as in Olney. Note to self: Avoid doing live radio after taking large doses of over-the-counter cold medicine.)


Posted in parole policy, Realignment, Reentry | 5 Comments »

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