Door-to-Door Deputies, the Hunt for the Next Probation Chief, Women with Locked-up Loved Ones, and MoreSeptember 20th, 2016 by Taylor Walker
LASD DEPUTIES MEET WITH 500 WILLOWBROOK NEIGHBORS TO DISCUSS CONCERNS
Over the weekend, more than 100 members of the LA County Sheriff’s Department walked through Willowbrook—a South LA neighborhood adjacent to Compton—going door to door to listen to residents’ concerns about quality of life issues and crime in their community. The event was held as a means of improving relationships between the LASD and underserved communities that often feel both neglected and targeted by law enforcement.
Willowbrook residents talked with deputies about gang violence, drugs, and rough treatment from officers. The most common complaints were about less serious issues like speeding down neighborhood streets and noise from parties.
Deputies met with and surveyed more than 500 people. The Century Sheriff’s Station will schedule a Town Hall meeting in the coming months to discuss the information gathered during the survey.
KPCC’s Frank Stoltze has more on the event. Here’s a clip:
One 24-year-old woman who lives with her parents down the street and who declined to give her name described to deputies rough treatment by their colleagues during a recent stop in front of her house.
“They took me out, shoved me into the police car,” she said. “When I tried to record, they told me I couldn’t record, so they took my phone away.”
It turned out it was a case of mistaken identity, she said.
“It might have been an honest mistake, but they could have been more professional,” she said. “I’ll think about it twice before calling them now.”
The deputies politely listened.
“I appreciate you sharing that story with us,” one deputy said. “That’s why we are doing this survey.”
He then asked her if she’d like deputies to keep an eye on her parents’ house when the family is ever out of town. She thought about it, and nodded her head yes.
Other residents expressed concerns about gang violence. It’s down from a decade ago, but persists along with drug dealing.
But more pedestrian problems came up more often, including speeding, parking and loud parties.
Deputies interviewed more than 500 people in this area of about 1,200 homes, Perry said. They plan to conduct a town hall with the survey results in a couple of months, then tackle the problems people are most concerned about.
People seemed genuinely glad to see deputies swarming their neighborhood for something other than a shooting.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Sal Jamarillo, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than forty years. “We only see them come when there’s trouble.”
TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD URGES LA COUNTY SUPES TO CONSIDER WAITING UNTIL AFTER ELECTION TO CHOOSE PROBATION CHIEF
Unless there is an LA County Probation Chief candidate with a “magic touch” who can effectively right persistent wrongs within the probation department, the “LA Times editorial board says the LA County Board of Supervisors should hold off on selecting a new chief until after the election, when two new board members will be in place, and after current studies into issues plaguing the department are completed.
Earlier this month, we wrote about the five candidates up for consideration to head a department that has run through five probation chiefs in a little over ten years. The new chief—whom the Times says could be “the most important department leader” selected by the Supes—will inherit all the problems on both the juvenile side and adult side that have been left unsolved by past department leaders.
Today (Tuesday), the Supes are slated to consider “candidate(s) for the position of Chief Probation Officer” in a closed session. We’ll let you know when we know more.
Here’s a clip from the editorial:
…in February, the supervisors called for a separate study to review the department’s many challenges, including inadequate data expertise, problems with its workforce, spotty fiscal controls and difficulties in its relationship with community-based contractors. That review, too, is still in progress.
The supervisors have their own vision of the department, embodied on the juvenile side in an “L.A. model” of individual care and closely monitored outcomes rather than punishment, and they have invested millions in remodeling a youth camp into a campus that will accommodate and enhance that approach. It’s the right one.
Yet they remain dogged by a reality in which probation officers are caught on camera abusing their young wards, and many employees have offered, at best, a lukewarm embrace of the new model. And on the adult side of the operation, criminal justice reforms have given the department increasing responsibilities but not always resources to match.
Befuddled by the many problems that beset the department, the board has a quandary: Should it hire, as quickly as possible, a talented chief probation officer to right the ship while answering the many questions they have posed? Or should they answer those questions first, and turn over the department to a leader ready to implement their vision?
ESSIE BRINGS WOMEN WITH INCARCERATED FAMILY MEMBERS TOGETHER FROM ACROSS THE NATION
Gina Clayton, a former public defender with a loved one behind bars, founded the Essie Justice Group to connect women who have incarcerated family members in order to provide empowerment and community for a group of women who often bear the burdens of loved ones’ incarceration alone. Nearly one in four women have a family member in prison, according to a study from Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney, Clayton talks about the stigma of having an incarcerated loved one, and the need for a support network and advocacy platform like Essie for women with a husband, child, sibling, parent, or other family member behind bars.
Here are some clips:
One of the biggest challenges was, you can’t just look on the internet and find women with incarcerated loved ones. It’s not a thing. Well, of course, it is a thing, it’s a thing that millions of women live, but it hadn’t been a defined group. At the time we started Essie, even formerly incarcerated people were a defined group, while women with incarcerated loved ones weren’t. There were no numbers, there was no data. There was no identification with this identity among the people that were living this experience.
Secondly, there is tremendous stigma. No one’s gonna raise their hand and say, “Oh, this is me.” There is shame and humiliation that comes with having someone you love in prison or jail or an immigration detention center. It’s something that you hide away, you shield yourself from all of the blame, and women will oftentimes incur a tremendous amount of isolation as a result.
These women so deeply love their partners, they love their sons and daughters who are incarcerated, but they aren’t allowed to say so. In our community, they’re allowed to love. They’re allowed to be proud, and to celebrate the small and large victories. Ordinarily, the conversation would begin and end with, “Well, he’s in prison, so why are we even talking about the fact that got his GED?” That’s not even allowed to be part of the conversation. In this community, it can be shared. That revolutionary love infrastructure that we’re creating is incredibly important, and it starts with a nomination.
We know that one in four women has a family member in prison, but it doesn’t begin to describe what those numbers really look like. What does that number look like when you take into account jails (rather than just prisons), and when you take into account unmarried partners?
I also think that data would show a connection between supporting women and public safety, that supporting these women is in everybody’s best interest. Because women are the actual prison reentry system in this country ― they’re the ones who are visiting incarcerated people, talking them through what to expect when they come home, preparing the home, making sure things are ready in a physical way, in an emotional, spiritual way. Women are doing the reentry work. And a woman who is stable, strong and supported, who has a community like the one that we’re providing ― when her loved one comes out of prison, she is prepared. That family’s experience that is much more likely to end up successfully, and for the family to stay whole. But when she is stressed out, when she’s depressed, when she feels burdened, when she feels unsupported, that reentry experience is, I believe, much less likely to go well. So we want to understand the connection between that and recidivism outcomes.
LAPD INVESTIGATING WRONGFUL ARREST AND DETENTION IN CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY
The LAPD is conducting an internal investigation into the wrongful arrest and 17-day lock-up of 45-year-old Guillermo Torres, a man mistakenly identified as a suspect in a murder case from 2000. Torres was arrested because of a tip from a citizen who saw a photo on the LAPD website’s “Most Wanted” page that the citizen believed to be Torres.
Through DNA testing, Torres was found to be innocent and was freed. Police Commission President Matt Johnson asked for a report back from Internal Affairs and called the situation “disturbing for all of us to hear about.”
City News Service has the story. Here’s a clip:
Torres — whose eyes welled up outside court after the hearing — spent more than two weeks in custody following a tip to police about a photo someone spotted in the “Most Wanted” section of the Los Angeles Police Department’s website seeking the public’s assistance in finding Calvario.
“For an innocent man, it was really a nightmare. It continues to be,” Torres’ attorney, Leonard Levine, told CNS outside court after the hearing. “He’s grateful that he is free and that the matter was cleared up … It was clearly established that he was not the person sought.”
Authorities ended up comparing Torres’ DNA to DNA collected from Calvario’s child and determining that Torres was not the man police were seeking, attorneys said.
One of Torres’ employers, Joanne Weinoe, said she and another of his employers sought legal help for the 45-year-old man, who was initially detained by police July 19 in connection with the killing. He was arrested six days later and initially held in lieu of $2 million bail, then was released Aug. 10 on electronic monitoring — an unusual step in a murder case.
“We said, ‘This is crazy. This is not him,’ ” Weinoe said of Torres, who has worked for her for 24 years and is the married father of an adult son. “You don’t turn your back on somebody like that … We weren’t going to just let him sit there and rot. We just knew it wasn’t him.”
She said the case shook her faith in the justice system.
“This is so wrong,” Weinoe said.
She noted that some attorneys said they would take the case, though they believed Torres was probably guilty, but that Levine quickly grew to believe Torres had been arrested in a case of mistaken identity.