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Prosecutors Call for 5 Years in Prison for Former LASD Undersheriff Paul Tanaka

June 13th, 2016 by Celeste Fremon



THE RINGLEADER FROM THE BEGINNING

“Defendant Paul Tanaka is responsible not only for obstructing justice, but also for fostering the culture that led to the significant problems in the Los Angeles County jails….While defendant claimed at his and three previous trials that he had only limited involvement in the conspiracy, the evidence showed instead that he was the ringleader from the beginning.
”

So begins the 23-page sentencing memorandum filed last week, in which government prosecutors ask U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson to sentence Paul Tanaka, the former second in command at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, to 60 months—or 5 years—in federal prison.

Tanaka, as most readers know, was convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, on April 6. He is due to sentenced by Judge Anderson on Monday, June 27.

The government’s sentencing memorandum makes for interesting reading. In it U.S. Attorneys Brandon Fox, Lizabeth Rhodes, and Eddie Juaregui not only reiterate the crimes for which Tanaka was convicted, they also paint a picture of a rogue supervisor who fostered a toxic culture that allowed for a pattern of civil rights abuses and corruption in the LA County jail system, and beyond. This pattern of abuse, say the prosecutors, led to the multi-year FBI investigation that Tanaka was convicted of obstructing.

And Tanaka wasn’t just any participant, the prosecutors write. He was “in charge of” the obstructive operation, was “involved in all aspects of the obstruction,” and he “set the tone of the operation early and repeatedly with his ‘F**k the FBI’ statements.”


THE CONTEXT AND THE CRIME

This attitude of Tanaka’s was not a new one, according to the prosecutors. It was, they contend, his signiture style as a supervisor that created the context for the crimes of which he and other department members have been convicted:

“During his time as an executive,” they write, “[the} defendant threatened to discipline supervisors who frequently referred deputies to Internal Affairs, transferred Captains who tried to reduce deputy abuse and break up cliques, instructed deputies to work in the ‘gray area’ of law enforcement, and expressed his desire to gut Internal Affairs. Defendant’s actions caused deputies to believe that they could act with impunity, which, unfortunately, they did much too frequently.”

Moreover, according to the prosecution, Tanaka “chose as his co-conspirators those who were ordinarily supposed to investigate the same type of crimes that they began covering up.”

The specifics of crimes of which Tanaka has been convicted are as follows: from mid-August 2011 through September 26, 2011, in a series of actions that came to be known, unofficially, Operation Pandora’s Box, Mr. Tanaka and department members under his direction, devised a scheme to hide a jail inmate turned-confidential informant from his FBI handlers through a complicated strategy of multiple name changes that made the federal informant, Anthony Brown, appear to vanish from the LA County jail system by making his name and distinguishing details vanish from the jail database.

The government also described how department members under Tanaka’s command attempted to intimidate potential witnesses, who had information about deputy wrongdoing, into refusing to cooperate with the FBI. Then the same group falsely threatened an FBI agent with arrest in an unsuccessful attempt to intimidate her into giving them information about the ongoing federal investigation.

For all these actions, say the prosecutors, Paul Tanaka was “the ringleader.”


COMPARATIVE SENTENCING

In the memo, the government notes that the other seven former department members who were convicted of obstruction of justice for participation in the same actions that Tanaka has been convicted of directing and influencing, have been given sentences ranging from 18 months for then-deputy James Sexton, to 37 and 41 months, respectively, for former lieutenants Greg Thompson and Stephen Leavins, at the top end, with former deputies Gerard Smith and Mickey Manzo, plus former sergeants Maricela Long and Scott Craig, receiving sentences in between.

The government makes the logical case that since Tanaka was the guy in charge, the shot caller, he must get the longest sentence.

The prosecutors also address the Baca factor, which the defense will undoubtedly point to vigorously when they argue for a lower sentence.

Former sheriff Lee Baca, as most of you are aware, made a plea deal with the feds in early February of this year, in which he admitted to lying to federal agents about his part in this whole mess. In return, the feds have agreed to a sentence of between 0 to 6 months in federal prison.

(Anderson will be sentencing Baca on July 11, at which time the judge is theoretically supposed to hand down a sentence between those guidelines. Yet legally, Anderson could sentence Baca to as much as five years, or anything in between. However if Anderson goes at all outside the 0 to 6 parameter, then the plea deal becomes null and void—unless Baca and his attorneys decide to accept a higher sentence rather than lose the plea deal, and move to an indictment.)

In the Tanaka sentencing memo, the prosecutors don’t exactly argue that Baca is less guilty than Tanaka, but that the “quantity and the quality” of the evidence they have against Lee Baca is less than the mounds they have against Tanaka. In other words, you charge what you can dead bang prove.

Then, in a curious sentence near the end of the memo, in which the prosecutors call the judge’s attention to “the issues raised in Baca’s PSR. Those issues place him in a very different position than the others involved in this case,” they write.

“PSR” stands for Pre Sentencing Report, the report written up by probation officials with a sentencing recommendation, that the judge may follow or disregard. We don’t know what “issues” to which the government is referring in their reference to the “PSR,” but our best guess is that the former sheriff is claiming health issues that he and his attorney maintain should preclude him from going to prison.

We’ll see what Judge Anderson makes of all this on June 27—And then again, on July 11, when he sentences former sheriff Baca.

In the meantime, former Deputy Gilbert Michel will be sentenced Monday morning.


You can find the government’s Tanaka sentencing memo here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments »

THE LASD SAGA CONTINUES: Another LA Sheriff’s Deputy Soon to be Sentenced….Retired Sheriff Lee Baca Unconcerned with “Jail”….LASD & DA Investigated Baca & Pal, Bishop Turner

June 6th, 2016 by Celeste Fremon



Former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Gilbert Michel will be sentenced next week.

Michel, if you remember, was caught in an FBI sting inside Men’s Central Jail in 2011.

At the time, the FBI was investigating multiple reports of what sounded like credible accounts of inmates being brutalized by deputies, or observing others being brutalized, to the point that “there appeared to be a pattern,” as Assistant U.S. Attorney Liz Rhodes explained during one of the government’s criminal cases against former sheriff’s department members.

But such allegations are tough to prove. “Inmates could be discredited,” Rhodes pointed out. “And the jails were controlled by the very people the FBI wanted to investigate.”

So the feds launched a number of quiet strategies, one of which was an undercover sting involving inmate/informant Anthony Brown, who said that he knew deputies who would bring in contraband in return for money.

And so it was that deputy Gilbert Michel was paid by a supposed Brown confederate, but in fact an undercover FBI agent, to bring a cell phone to Brown inside Men’s Central Jail, in return for a cash bribe. For additional money, Michele continued to charge Brown’s new cellphone.

A week or so later, the cell phone was discovered by a deputy in a routine search, Brown was found to be a federal informant, all hell broke loose, and the feds pounced on Michele who eventually made a plea deal with the government in return for his cooperation.

Now it remains for him to be sentenced.

The question is, will he get more or less time than the 0 to 6 months that has been offered to former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca in return for his plea deal.

The prosecution has asked for four months of home confinement citing a great many factors including his cooperation, his important and affecting testimony “against more senior deputies, sergeants,
lieutenants, and ultimately the Under-sheriff of his former department. The government believes that his testimony was important to securing those convictions.”

Baca, just to remind you, is due to be sentenced on July 11. Paul Tanaka is due to be sentenced on June 27.


FORMER LA COUNTY SHERIFF BACA SAYS “NOT AFRAID OF JAIL,” STANDS ON RECORD “PROUDLY”

And on the topic of Baca’s sentencing…..

“I’m not afraid of jail. I’m not afraid of anything.”

(By the way, we think Baca meant “prison,” not “jail,” a distinction one would think he’d have mastered by now. But, no matter.)

That’s what former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca told the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok in an interview published last week, which took place after the former sheriff was honored at a celebratory breakfast by Congregation Bais Naftoli for “his years of friendship to the Jewish community.”

Some of the notable quotes from Baca’s post-breakfast interview with Torok are as follows:

“I’m one that believes if you know how to suffer properly, you don’t suffer at all. I’m an individual who does not suffer because of mistakes. I’m someone who learns from mistakes. … I’ll stand on my record proudly, anywhere, whether it’s in the free world or in jail.”

“I’m not asking for forgiveness for the mistakes that I’ve made. I’ll let God decide to forgive me. I can serve time, I don’t care what the circumstances are, I’m not afraid of that, because I know who I am, I know why I do what I do and I know the people who work for me know that I love them…And I love my critics, as well.”

Torok also writes that, regarding the multiple former department members who have been convicted on charges related to abusing jail inmates or jail visitors, Baca said “that jailing deputies will not solve the problem of inmate abuse.”

Alrighty then. Good to know.



THE LASD AND DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE WERE INVESTIGATING BACA AND BISHOP TURNER—AND FOUND NOTHING TO SEE

Last week there was one more Lee Baca-related story that you should not miss.

This intriguing story, by ABC7′s investigative producer Lisa Bartley, revealed that both the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the LA District attorney’s office were investigating Baca and his former paid buddy, Bishop Edward Turner..

Turner, to remind you, was one of the former sheriff’s four “civilian field deputies,” and had a county-paid salary of $114,584 a year, a county-paid car, and a deputy sheriff assigned to him as his part-time aide, and other perks. In return for the taxpayer-supplied salary and goodies, Turner was tasked with a list of slightly fuzzy responsibilities, prominently including “constituent outreach” (which sounds a lot like year-round campaigning, but no matter), and facilitating some drug prevention programs.

In 2013, Bartley and ABC7 reported on various extravagantly questionable activities engaged in—or allegedly engaged in—by Turner while he was on the LASD payroll.

The ABC7 investigations evidently triggered investigations by the sheriff’s department, and subsequently the DA’s office, into possible criminal wrongdoing by Baca and Bishop Turner. Then, a few weeks ago, writes Bartley, the DA’s office concluded there was nothing shady going on after all—a conclusion that seems to bring up as many questions as it attempts to put to bed.

The District Attorney’s office “Charge Evaluation Worksheet,” released last month and obtained by producer Bartley, makes for fascinating reading. (You can find it here.)

But to better appreciate the DA’s report, it will help to have a refresher on ABC7′s 2013 investigations, which looked at the activities of Baca’s field deputies in general, and turned up a bunch of curious facts about Turner in particular:

1. For example, ABC7 reporters learned that Turner was the landlord for property across the street from his South LA Church, the Power of Love Christian Fellowship, and it turned out that one of Turner’s tenants on the property was a marijuana dispensary, at a time when Baca had been vocally against medical marijuana dispensaries.

When asked about the dispensary—which is illegal in that it is not one of the 134 dispensaries then sanctioned by LA’s Measure D—-Turner claimed he didn’t really know anything about the operation, or its illegality. However, when ABC7 talked to the dispensary’s owner, the man said he walked the rent check across the street to Turner’s church every month.

2. In addition to his church, Turner was running a nonprofit organization called H.O.P.E. for Life. ABC7 tried to look into the organization’s financials, which, due to its tax exempt status, should have been publically accessible. They found that H.O.P.E. for Life had its nonprofit status revoked in 2009 for its failure to file the proper yearly disclosures with the IRS.

This information was problematic for the LASD because Baca had repeatedly raised money for H.O.P.E for Life with the department’s yearly “Multi-faith Prayer Breakfast,” an event that many upper-level department supervisors were reportedly strongly urged to attend. Yet, ABC’s report found that was not at all clear where the money for the LASD-sponsored event(s) eventually wound up—all of which suggested fraud.

3. Then, weirdest of all, Bartly and ABC7 obtained a highly suggestive sheriff’s department incident report, circa 2005 involving a mysterious package addressed to Turner’s church containing large amounts of cash.

Here’s what reporter Marc Brown reported in 2013:

We also had questions about a 2005 sheriff’s department “incident report.” A package that was addressed to Turner’s Power of Love church was intercepted by a sheriff’s department narcotics team. The package contained $84,020 in cash.

Detectives wrote in their report that based on their expertise, that the cash was the “direct proceeds from the sale of controlled substances, or illegal narcotics.”

“I was totally appalled and upset about that situation,” said Turner.

According to the report, Turner called a detective and said he wasn’t expecting a parcel and didn’t know anyone in New York who would send him a box of money.

In 2013, WitnessLA spoke to then-Baca spokesperson, Steve Whitmore, who told us that the sheriff was “taken aback” by news of the marijuana dispensary.

Whitmore also said that Baca moved quickly to cancel all future donations to Turner’s non-nonprofit.

About the box of cash, Whitmore said that the matter had been “fully investigated” by the department, and that, despite the fact that the package was addressed to Turner’s church, “they couldn’t connect the package to Bishop Turner.”

“But we’re still going to look into all that again in our investigation.”

And while, indeed, there were two investigations into Turner and the drug money-–one in 2005, and one after the ABC7 reports—the handling of said investigations have raised some concerns.

Most troublingly, a number of present and former LASD officials—including former undersheriff Paul Tanaka—have suggested, or outright stated, that Lee Baca spiked the 2005 investigation into Bishop Turner and the mystery drug money.

Yet when the department—and subsequently the DA’s office—decided to look into whether or not the the former sheriff had actually shut down a criminal investigation into his pal Bishop Turner’s activities, according to Bartley, at least two of the most crucial LASD players in that alleged drama declined to talk to ICIB, the LASD’s internal criminal investigative arm, or anyone else, about the 2005 Turner investigation, and why it was closed.

Yet, instead of pushing further with those important potential witnesses, the DA’s report repeatedly floated a rumor that then candidate for sheriff, Robert Olmsted, started the rumor about the spiked 2005 investigation to discredit Baca whom he was challenging politically.

However since, thus far, there are multiple instances in which Mr. Tanaka and/or Mr. Baca have been accused of triggering retaliatory IA investigations against people with whom they disagree, and shutting down or minimizing investigations into the actions of people whom they favored, and exactly zero instances that we know of where Olmsted has been accused of retaliatory witch hunts, or the like, we found this tack on the part of the DA’s report to be….perplexing.

Anyway, read Bartley’s report, and then read the DA’s report, and let us know what you think.



Lee Baca photo by Saxon Brice

Posted in LASD, Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

Muhammed Ali: Simply, The Greatest – January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

June 4th, 2016 by Celeste Fremon


“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

― Muhammad Ali


“The Service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

― Muhammad Ali


“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”

― Muhammad Ali


“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”

― Muhammad Ali


“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

― Muhammad Ali


“The man with no imagination has no wings.”

― Muhammad Ali


“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

― Muhammad Ali


“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.”

― Muhammad Ali


“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me.”

― Muhammad Ali


“I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin’ hell, but as long as they ain’t free, I ain’t free.”

― Muhammad Ali

Posted in Life in general, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca Reportedly Suffering From Alzheimer’s, Could Affect Sentencing

May 31st, 2016 by Celeste Fremon


IS FORMER SHERIFF LEE BACA SUFFERING FROM ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?

According to sources who have met recently with former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the former sheriff said he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, along with Parkinson’s,** and believes his condition may persuade U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson not to give him any prison time when Anderson sentences Baca in July.

Baca’s sentencing hearing, which was originally scheduled for May, has been delayed twice at the request of the prosecution, and is now scheduled for July 11 at 8:30 a.m. in Judge Anderson’s courtroom.

If you’ll remember, in February of this year, Baca signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he formally pleaded guilty to one felony count of lying to federal authorities when they questioned him in the course of a wide-ranging investigation into “corruption and civil rights violations” in the department he’d led for fifteen years.

Specifically, Baca admitted to Judge Anderson that he lied to the FBI and members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office during a round of questioning three years earlier on April 12, 2013. At that time, among other denials by Baca, the former sheriff falsely claimed ignorance of the fact that, in 2011, two LASD sergeants were going to approach FBI special agent, Leah Marx, and threaten her with arrest, hoping to get information about the feds’ rapidly expanding investigation into brutality by deputies in the county’s large jail system.

In fact, Baca has now admitted, he gave instructions that the officers “should do everything but put handcuffs on her.” Her being Agent Marx.

Baca’s attorneys sought the plea agreement with the feds in lieu their client facing a federal indictment for his alleged part in obstructing the government’s probe into LASD wrongdoing.

But although the former sheriff pleaded guilty in February, the plea will not be finalized until Baca’s July sentencing. The terms of the plea deal specify that Baca’s sentence will fall between 0 to 6 months in a federal prison.

Yet, as Judge Anderson informed Baca and his attorney, Michael Zweiback, during the February plea hearing, the court “is not bound by advisory guidelines,” but is able to impose a sentence that “could be greater or lessor than the guideline range,” up to a maximum of five years in prison, plus three years of post-prison oversight, and a cash fine of up to $250,000.

But if Anderson was to go above the 0 to 6 guidelines, then the plea deal would become null and void—unless Baca and his attorney elected to take the higher sentence rather than go to trial.

Still, there has been much speculation about the possibility that Anderson could to go above the guidelines in order to give Baca a sentence that can be measured in years, not months.

But now there is the new—but not officially confirmed—-talk about Baca’s possible condition.

Baca’s sentencing date has been postponed twice, and both times the postponement was requested by the prosecution.

In the most recent written request for a delay, prosecutors referred to “issues raised” in the “Pre-Sentence Investigation Report” that has been submitted by probation.

Here’s how that works: After Baca submitted his plea, representatives from federal probation met with Baca and company, then submitted a report recommending a sentence within the federal guidelines—specifically that 0 to 6 months we mentioned earlier–-for the crime to which he has pleaded. Then once in receipt of the probation report, the prosecution must make its own recommendation that could be higher or lower than whatever probation suggested, but that—–according to the terms of the plea deal—–must remain within the 0-6 month parameter.

It seems, however, that there are some unnamed “issues” raised by the probation report that the government feels it needs more time to address:

The government has identified, retained and consulted with an expert witness regarding the issues raised in paragraph 65. This expert witness then asked for additional material from defendant in order to fully assess the issue.

Defendant provided most of this material to the government late last week, which the government forwarded on to its expert witness today. Defendant, however, is awaiting additional results sought by the government’s expert witness. Defendant expects to receive these results in the next week. Once the government receives the additional material, it will need time to consult with its expert witness on the issue and determine the extent to which it affects the government’s [sentencing] recommendation, if at all.

The probation report, including the mysterious “paragraph 65” and the issues to which it refers are under seal.

So do the “issues” causing the delay relate to Baca’s reported medical condition?

We asked Assistant U.S. Attoney Brandon Fox about the matter and he declined to comment.


TANAKA SENTENCING

The sentencing date for former undersheriff Paul Tanaka has also been delayed, and Tanaka will now be sentenced on June 27 at 8:30 a.m. For Tanaka too it will be Judge Anderson will be doing the sentencing. Tanaka faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

To remind you, the former undersheriff was convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice pertaining to allegations that he directed and oversaw deliberate efforts to disrupt an FBI investigation into a culture of brutality and corruption inside the LA County jails, which began in 2010.

Seven other former department members have been convicted of charges of obstruction of justice for actions stemming from orders issued by Mr. Tanaka and Mr. Baca.

Judge Anderson, who will be sentencing both Lee Baca and Paul Tanaka, presided over the trials of the seven and handed down their sentences, which ranged from 18 months to 41 months

So, in view of the sentences Anderson has already ordered for department underlings, will he be willing to sentence the former top guy, Lee Baca, to no prison time at all? Or will he venture outside the guidelines to give Baca a more substantial prison sentence, despite the former sheriff’s reported medical issues.

Unless there are more delays, we will learn the answer to that question on July 11.

And in between the sentencing of Tanaka and Baca, the cases of the convicted seven will be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 5.


**CORRECTION: Although sources tell us former sheriff Baca has Parkinson’s, for a variety of reasons, we have become less sure about the reliability of this second reported diagnosis, hence the cut. We will keep you up to date as we learn more.

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments »

California Budget Highlights: Prop. 47 Savings, $$ for Combatting Homelessness, and More

May 19th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

BROWN’S CALCULATED PROP. 47 SAVINGS INCREASES BY $10 MILLION

California Governor Jerry Brown has increased the estimated savings from Proposition 47 by $10 million—from $29.4 million to $39.4 million—in the latest budget revision for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

If you’ll remember, voter-approved Prop. 47 reduced six non-serious property and drug-related felonies to misdemeanors, and was supposed to save the state more than $100 million each year.

That savings is earmarked for mental health and drug rehab programs for criminal justice system-involved people, efforts to reduce truancy and help at-risk students, and for victims services.

The governor’s January budget calculated those Prop. 47 savings to be $29.3 million. A report from California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that Brown’s budget under-counted the dollar amount Proposition 47 saved the state by about $100 million, overestimated costs, and diverted money from the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund—where all the Prop. 47 savings is supposed to end up—to send it back into the prison system. The ACLU and other advocates have also criticized Gov. Brown for trying to put Prop. 47 money back into prisons by subtracting certain supervision and court costs from the Prop. 47 savings total.

This latest budget draft now heads to the California Legislature, where it will go through a period of negotiations, during which time lawmakers will have to step in and decide what savings Prop. 47 is actually responsible for producing.

The LA Times editorial board says that Gov. Brown may still be undercounting the savings. The Times board points out that the LA City Council, LA County Board of Supervisors, and others have urged Gov. Brown to go with the savings calculated by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and calls on lawmakers to hold the governor’s bureaucrats accountable, and make sure the dollars go to the rehabilitation and anti-recidivism efforts, as voters intended. Here’s a clip:

…Proposition 47 is right on schedule, and local leaders know it. The state calculates prison savings on an annual basis, and the first full year under the ballot measure does not end until June 30. Counties and cities will then submit their requests, and funds will begin flowing later this year.

The problem is not that the money is late — it’s not — but rather that Gov. Jerry Brown may be lowballing the actual savings figure. Instead of the $150 million that the state legislative analyst projected would be saved, the governor identified only a small fraction of that in his January spending plan. In the revised budget he released last week, he upped the figure — but only to $40 million, well short of the mark.

There are many ways to crunch numbers. Democratic Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, for example, used to be an L.A. City Hall bureaucrat and learned to cover up savings in order to keep it on hand for other projects.

“I know how to hide money,” he told a gathering of residents and activists at the Community Coalition in South Los Angeles recently. “I know how to block budgets.”

Jones-Sawyer promised to use that savvy to press the governor’s bureaucrats for a larger, more realistic savings figure to be distributed under Proposition 47.

We take him at his word — and hold him to it. The same goes for other members of the Legislature, whose home counties and cities need the funding guaranteed under the ballot measure. It falls to them, in the few weeks before the budget is finalized, to go to bat for California voters who have demanded a fundamental shift in criminal justice spending from prison expansions to locally based crime prevention and anti-recidivism programs.


MONEY FOR REDUCING HOMELESSNESS

In the May budget revision, Gov. Brown has also endorsed a $2 billion bond plan to tackle chronic homelessness among California’s mentally ill population.

“Homelessness plagues communities across our state so I’m very pleased Governor Brown has embraced the Senate’s bipartisan ‘No Place Like Home’ proposal to direct $2 billion from the Prop 63 bond to bolster local efforts to tackle this crisis,” said California Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

The plan would have to win a two-thirds majority vote in the state Legislature to pass. Then, the state would use money from the bonds to fund affordable housing and homelessness services—via a Mental Health Services Act Supportive Housing Program and Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program. Brown’s May budget revision calculates a first year funding for these programs of $267 million in bond revenue.


ADVOCATE GROUPS’ RESPONSES TO THE REVISED BUDGET

Gov. Brown also wants to add $2 billion to the state’s rainy day fund, with an eye toward an expected economic slowdown in California’s future. “The surging tide of revenue has begun to turn,” Brown said. “Quoting Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper: ‘It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.’”

Instead of putting that $2 billion toward the rainy day fund, Alex Johnson, Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California, says that money should be spent on important programs for children and families that suffered during the recession.

“During the recession, Governor Brown and the California Legislature balanced the budget on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable children and families, by cutting basic needs CalWORKs grants for families, eliminating child care slots, and ending successful children’s health programs,” said Johnson. “Now is the time to use the state’s budget surplus to protect and invest in essential programs to level the playing field for California’s children…”

The revised budget does a disservice to poor communities of color by not increasing funding for “prevention-based services and early education,” according to the Advancement Project.

“The May Revise proposes to abolish transitional kindergarten, thereby eliminating early learning opportunities – rather than expanding them,” the Advancement Project said in a statement. “This is especially wrong headed in the light of the growing science supporting early learning as well as the recent polling showing that Californians overwhelming support greater early learning spending, not less.”

Posted in California budget, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Newsletter Arriving in Your Inboxes on Tuesday This Week

May 16th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

If you’re signed up to receive our hand-picked Monday news round-up full of the week’s must read justice stories, plus the best of WitnessLA, look for this week’s edition on Tuesday morning (rather than the usual Monday).

If you are not yet on the list, there’s still time to sign up and receive this week’s California Justice Report newsletter.

(Note: Although the sign-up asks for your name, only your email is mandatory.)

If you’re unfamiliar with WitnessLA’s California Justice Report, feel free to check out last week’s newsletter.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Pretrial Detention and the Poor, an Asset Forfeiture Bill, Steve Lopez on Homelessness, and LA Supe. Candidates on Child Welfare

May 12th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

CASH BAIL KEEPS POOR PEOPLE LOCKED UP (UNNECESSARILY) AND IMPOVERISHED

A new report from the Prison Policy Initiative sheds light on the all-too-common practice of locking up poor defendants while they await trial, via unattainable bail bonds.

There are nearly 500,000 pretrial detainees crowding jails across the nation, according to Department of Justice estimates. Despite the fact that it is illegal to lock people up for being poor, cash bail as it is used today creates a punishment-until-proven-innocent system that keeps indigent defendants behind bars, while rich defendants walk free.

PPI researchers found that, according to US Bureau of Justice numbers, jail inmates had an annual income of $15,109 before their incarceration—less than half the median income for their non-incarcerated peers. People in jail are even poorer than people in prison. For black men, the differences are even more extreme. Jailed black men had an annual pre-lockup income that was 64% lower than their non-incarcerated peers.

To put it in context, if a typical bail bond is $10,000, it equates to eight months of income for the average detainee. Even paying a portion to bail bondsmen is often impossible for defendants and their families living below the poverty line.

In New York, Kalief Browder’s inability to post $3,000 for his release led to a three-year stint at Rikers Island, most of which was spent in solitary confinement—without ever being tried. Browder came out of Rikers and isolation and struggled for three years with mental illness and the aftereffects of prolonged isolation. Browder tried to kill himself several times, finally succeeding in June of last year. He was 22-years-old.

Some lawmakers are taking note. US Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation earlier this year that would end the controversial use of money bail at the federal level, and block access to Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants for states that keep their money bail systems in place. (In 2012, California received the largest Byrne JAG sum: $32 million.)

The PPI report closes with six recommendations for stamping out the disproportionate and needless incarceration of poor Americans in the nation’s jails. The recommendations include abolishing cash bail, increasing diversion programs, no longer locking poor defendants up for their inability to pay usurious fines and fees, boosting funding for public defense, and ending pay-to-stay programs that charge people for their incarceration.

Read the recommendations: here.


OPINION: APPROVE BILL TO CURB ASSET FORFEITURE PRACTICES IN CALIFORNIA

Civil asset forfeiture laws allow government entities to seize (and keep) money, cars, real estate, and other property that may be associated with a crime—no conviction necessary. In California and across the nation, local law enforcement agencies are using asset forfeiture as a cash cow.

Last month, the US Department of Justice revived its Equitable Sharing Program, which authorizes local law enforcement agencies to bring feds into an investigation, and thus be able to skirt state restrictions against using seized money as revenue, with only “probable cause” that laws have been broken, not actual convictions. The federal program was suspended in December due to budget cuts, but was brought back to life last month.

California Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Mike Hadley (R-Torrance) hope to rein in this controversial practice with a bill that would require a conviction for law enforcement to permanently take money or property from someone. The bill passed out of the Senate with almost unanimous support, but faces opposition in the Assembly from law enforcement agencies and others that are funded by forfeited money.

In an op-ed for Voice of San Diego, Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, the ACLU of California’s criminal justice and drug policy director, calls on legislature to pass the bill, saying, “We oew it to every single hardworking Californian who has ever been forced to pay the price of this rampant abuse and injustice.” Here’s a clip:

…California law enforcement agencies can take and keep innocent people’s money and property, because federal law does not require a conviction and actually lets California agencies keep a larger cut of the proceeds than is allowed under state law.

California police are exploiting this lucrative loophole that incentivizes department profits over justice. As with any abusive police practice, policing for profit has taken an especially hard toll on low-income people of color. According to a Washington Post review of federal court records, the vast majority of people who challenged seizures and received some money back were black, Latino or another minority. Other investigations, including those in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, found similar results.

Right here in San Diego, the city police departments with the fastest-growing seizures are communities made up predominantly of people of color. Between 2013 and 2015, Chula Vista Police Department has increased its haul of asset forfeiture funds by 60 percent, and National City Police Department by a whopping 112 percent. Of the two San Diegans profiled above, one was Latina, the other black.

It is easy to see why vulnerable Californians are deemed easy targets: They are less likely to come forward and fight the government because doing so is expensive and has been known to morph from asset forfeiture into deportation investigations of relatives and IRS involvement. What’s more, this practice, which throws the Constitution and state law out the window, can drive already struggling families deeper into poverty.


STEVE LOPEZ ON THE STATE OF HOMELESSNESS IN LOS ANGELES, AND CONCRETE WAYS WE CAN START ADDRESSING THE ISSUE

Homelessness is still on the rise in Los Angeles County, according to the latest homeless count—up 5.7% over the previous year (to 47,000), which is less than half of the 12% increase experienced in 2014, but still disappointing. LA County and the City of LA are working on a collaborative plan to help and house homeless residents, but much of the funding is still in limbo.

In his column, the LA Times’ Steve Lopez says he doesn’t have all the answers to LA’s homelessness crisis, but he lays out five thoughts on where city and county officials and non-profit partners can take action. Here’s a clip:

First: Someone has to step up.

“We can bring these numbers down,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said of the increase in homelessness. “This could be the year we begin to turn the tide.”

Not at the rate we’re going.

The city, like the county, has a solid plan to deliver more services and housing. And Councilman Mike Bonin gets credit for pushing hard on creative solutions like making use of a senior center as a shelter and erecting housing on city-owned lots.

But the $138 million budgeted by Garcetti this year is more goal than guarantee, with roughly half of it still something of a mirage.

L.A. County has a more solid $150-million budget for homelessness, and even at that, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl warned that modest sums won’t counter economic trends that are “forcing people out of their houses.”

Translation: The steady advance of tent cities and rolling homes is headed soon to your neighborhood, if it’s not already there.

It’s time for Garcetti, and Kuehl, and other city and county officials, to start campaigning for a reliable source of funding — a sales tax, a bond measure, or fees on new development.

Come on, somebody has to take this on. We’re going to become the next Calcutta unless some 21st-century hero steps up.


LA COUNTY SUPERVISOR HOPEFULS SQUARE OFF ON CHILD WELFARE ISSUES

At a forum held in Pasadena on Tuesday, five candidates looking to replace outgoing LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich shared their views on improving the county’s child welfare system.

During the discussion, which was hosted by Daniel Heimpel’s Fostering Media Connections, contenders LA City Councilmember Mitchell Englander and Kathryn Barger, Antonovich’s chief of staff, highlighted the importance of collaboration between the county and the private sector to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Prosecutor Elan Carr discussed public education as a crime deterrent. State Senator Bob Huff talked about the serious need for lighter caseloads for social workers.

Entrepreneur Darrell Park said that social workers could handle high caseloads if they were driven in sheriff’s deputies’ patrol cars, and if they dictated their reports to administrative employees with blazing fast typing fingers.

The LA Daily News’ Brenda Gazzar has a good round up of their main talking points. Here’s a clip:

Elan Carr, a criminal gang prosecutor, stressed the importance of education to prevent child abuse. Parents, especially young ones, need to be educated on raising children and dealing with normal stresses, such as anger management. Carr said he has forced defendants to undergo anger management counseling under penalty of jail.

“We’ve got to start really getting serious with education,” Carr said. “The only way really to fight crime and abusive homes is to provide nurturing education for all parties involved.”

Children must also be taught that violence is not the answer so that they don’t carry the practice into adulthood, he said.

Mitchell Englander, a Los Angeles city councilman, argued the county should adopt a public awareness campaign called “See something, say something.” Abuse happens behind closed doors and people should be encouraged to report friends, neighbors and loved ones to stop it, he said.

Englander also noted that he’s dedicated his life to public-private partnerships and said parents need to be brought into programs that benefit children and stay engaged.

“Government can’t do this alone,” he said. “This is a partnership. It’s a collaboration. That’s where philanthropic dollars come in but we’ve got to be accountable as well and work together.”

Posted in pretrial detention/release, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

A Top LASD Official’s Racist and Sexist Emails

April 28th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

LA COUNTY SHERIFF’S CHIEF OF STAFF, TOM ANGEL, FORWARDED RASIST CHAIN EMAILS

LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s chief of staff, Tom Angel, forwarded emails filled with racist, anti-Muslim, and sexist “jokes,” during his time as second in command at the Burbank Police Department between 2012-2013, according to city records obtained by the LA Times’ Cindy Chang and Alene Tchekmedyian. (As it happens, Angel was hired to help reform the Burbank PD, which had been mired in allegations of racism, abuse, and sexual harassment.)

One of the emails lists 20 reasons Muslim terrorists “are so quick to commit suicide.” The reasons include: no nude women, rags for clothes, towels for hats, constant wailing from some idiot in a tower, you can’t wash off the smell of donkey, your wife smells worse than your donkey, and you cook over burning camel shit.

In another email forwarded by Angel, one “joke” reads, “I took my Biology exam last Friday. I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently, ‘Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers.”

Another reads, “As I went into my bank, I walked past a black kid sitting at a bus stop. When I came out, he looked at me and said, ‘Any change, sir?’ I said, ‘Nope, you’re still black.’”

When asked about the matter, Angel told the LA Times that “anybody” will forward emails they shouldn’t in the workplace, now and then. “I apologize if I offended anybody, but the intent was not for the public to have seen these jokes.”

Angel was a member of the LASD for 33 years. After his retirement, Angel then spent five years with the Burbank PD, during which time the racist emails were sent. In 2015, Sheriff McDonnell brought back to the LASD as chief of staff as an at-will employee, which. according to an LASD spokesman, means that Angel can be fired or demoted without the protection of civil service rules.

Brian Moriguchi, president of the L.A. County Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA), told WitnessLA that more is called for to address the email revelations. Moriguchi suggested that the sheriff and Angel should immediately visit community groups affected by the offensive emails and apologize. Angel has only visited one Muslim group, according to the LA Times, and the sheriff has reportedly scheduled meetings with community groups that will take place next week.

“The other big concern is whether the sheriff is going to treat Tom Angel differently than the rest of his employees,” said Moriguchi. With this in mind, he said that Angel might send a video message to the department members apologizing for “bringing disgrace on the department.” Some kind of action is needed, Moriguchi said.

Sheriff McDonnell told the LA Times that the released emails are a “teaching moment,” and that all who are familiar with Angel would characterize him as “professional and respectful of everyone” he comes into contact with.

“Chief Angel’s decision-making and actions in his long prior career with the Sheriff’s Department and since his return in 2015 reveal more about his actual character and typical good judgment than the instances from four years prior currently reported in the media,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Although there is no doubt that such instances, if occurring within the Sheriff’s Department, would result in disciplinary action, there is also no doubt that Chief Angel understands and respects that fact.”

Another well-placed department member, who asked not to be named, said that, from what he is hearing, the Angel emails are a very big deal indeed.

“Everyone working patrol is watching to see what the sheriff will do.” They want to know, he said, if there is one set of rules for those close to Sheriff McDonnell and a completely different set for the rank and file.

In addition, the source said, those on patrol are the one’s who have to deal with anger from the communities who feel that the department will tolerate these kinds of “jokes.”

You can find all of the emails that the Times obtained: here.


WILLIE WILLIAMS, FIRST BLACK LAPD CHIEF, DIES AT 72

Willie Williams, who took over as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the Rodney King beating and the Los Angeles riots in 1992, has died. Williams was the first African American to serve as LAPD Chief.

Williams died in Fayetteville, GA, after battling pancreatic cancer.

The LA Times’ Joel Rubin has more on Willie’s life and legacy in Los Angeles. Here’s a clip:

The challenge facing Williams was all the more daunting given his predecessor, Daryl F. Gates, a deeply polarizing figure who had won fierce loyalty from rank-and-file officers but had long been criticized as running the LAPD like a brutish, occupying quasi-military force that mistreated blacks and other minorities.

“Willie Williams was appointed to do some healing, and in many ways he succeeded, building and rebuilding positive, constructive relationships between the African American community and the police,” said John Mack, a longtime civil rights leader who served on the city’s civilian Police Commission. “But the deck was stacked against him from the start. The Los Angeles Police Department was not ready to accept him for two reasons: He was an outsider and he was African American.”

Chosen by then-Mayor Tom Bradley to replace Gates over several high-ranking LAPD officials, Williams arrived promising to follow the same blueprint he had used to run the Philadelphia department. At the heart of the plan was his belief in community policing, a relatively novel idea at the time that emphasized the need for police to integrate themselves closely into the communities they serve in order to build trust.

It was a message that resonated with residents, as polls showed Williams enjoyed strong approval ratings among residents throughout the city. City officials praised him for stabilizing the department and repairing its reputation.

Williams showed a willingness to fight for changes. He pushed for increased hiring of female officers and spoke out about the need to address rampant sexual harassment and discrimination within the ranks. He increased the size of the department and advocated for reforms drawn up in 1991 by the Christopher Commission, which had been formed by Bradley after the King beating to review LAPD training, discipline and complaint systems.

But doubts and resistance to Williams’ leadership soon took root…

Posted in LASD, Uncategorized | 72 Comments »

Taking a Closer Look at an Anti-Gang Program, More SFPD Racist Texts, and Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald’s Retirement

April 27th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

COUNTY OFFICIALS TO RE-EVALUATE A 1990s ANTI-GANG PROGRAM AND ITS EFFECTIVENESS

On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to re-evaluate the county’s participation in a multi-agency anti-gang program launched two decades ago, during a much different time in Los Angeles’ gang history.

According to early LAPD data, the gang suppression-focused Community Law Enforcement and Recovery Program (CLEAR) appeared to be working as intended. But in light of Los Angeles’ recent uptick in gang-related violence, the County Supervisors are concerned that the program relies on outdated strategies in a time when the national (and local) focus is shifting away from suppression and the lock-em-up approach, and toward intervention and rehabilitation.

“LAPD data showed nearly 60% of the homicides in [the city of Los Angeles] were either gang-related or gang-motivated,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “So I think this is really important and timely, but I also think there has to be a reassessment of the effectiveness of gang strategies that we aim to deploy. Some are old, crusty, unimaginative, and we keep doing the same things over and over again and getting the same results.”

CLEAR was launched in November of 1996 through the President’s Anti-Gang Initiative (AGI) with funding from the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and runs on a combination of the yearly federal dollars, along with local general fund money.

When CLEAR came into being, although gang violence had dropped considerably from the awful high point of the early 1990’s, both gangs and gang enforcement were still very much in the news. Los Angeles was less than two years away from the unfolding of the LAPD’s Rampart scandal. The LAPD’s Rampart-tarnished gang units, known as CRASH—or Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums—would be disbanded in 2000. But, the year before CLEAR was launched, in September of 1995, the high profile death in a gang shooting of a pretty three-year-old girl named Stephanie Kuhen inflamed public sentiment. And pressure was placed on public officials and law enforcement to take action.

CLEAR was—and still is—run as a collaboration between the LAPD, the LA County District Attorney’s Office, LA County Probation, the LA City Attorney’s Office, and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Parole Operations. (The sheriff’s department does not participate.)

The LAPD would deploy officers to CLEAR target areas, the first of which was the department’s Northeast Division. Since 1996, CLEAR units were activated in eight more LAPD divisions: Foothill, Newton, Hollenbeck, Southeast, Southwest, Ramona Gardens, Rampart, and 77th Divisions. Along with the LAPD officers, armed probation officers participate in special operations, police ride-alongs, compliance sweeps, and search and seizures.

The LA City Attorney’s Office and LA County District Attorney’s Office prosecute resulting cases.

Now, the Supes want to know if these are really the best methods for LA’s present day gang problems. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl described the need to examine the outcomes produced by any program, pointing to the recent past when ticketing truant students was thought to be effective, until research proved otherwise.

The motion, from Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis directs the County CEO, in consultation with the Interim Chief Probation Officer, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Sheriff, and the District Attorney to report back to the board with an evaluation of the county’s role in the CLEAR program, its outcomes and other data, whether CLEAR’s strategies are up-to-date with the most current research on successful gang intervention, and how the county—if it chooses to continue participating in CLEAR—can regularly evaluate the program’s value and effectiveness.

“The default is not prevention. The default is not intervention. The default is not re-entry. The default is suppression,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “So the question that CLEAR has to answer is how the resources are being used along those lines, in terms of suppression of gang violence versus activities that promote intervention and prevention.”


DOZENS MORE RACIST, HOMOPHOBIC TEXT MESSAGES SURFACE IN SFPD’S ONGOING TEXT MESSAGE SCANDAL

San Francisco city officials will have to re-evaluate 207 criminal cases—including three murders—following the public release of more than 100 disturbingly racist and homophobic text messages between four SFPD officers in 2014 and 2015.

The text messages were found during an investigation into rape allegations against former San Francisco police officer, Jason Lai. The messages were exchanged between Lai and two other officers, Curtis Liu and Keith Ybarreta.

Here’s a small sampling of Lai’s alarming messages:

“Indian ppl are disgusting.”

“I hate that beaner, but I think that nig is worse.”

Lai reportedly also referred to one of his incident reports as “a story I wrote today.”

The Guardian’s Channing Joseph has the story. Here’s a clip:

…Jason Lai, repeatedly used racist, homophobic and transphobic slurs like “nigga”, “fag” and “tranny” to refer to San Francisco residents. He also makes offensive remarks about president Barack Obama and NBA player LeBron James.

“Do you know what Obama coffee is?” Lai wrote in an apparent joke. “Black and weak!”

[SNIP]

The revelation of the contents of the text messages is just the latest blow for the embattled police department, which has faced ongoing protests since the fatal police shooting of Mario Woods last winter.

Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s public defender, made the announcement after the district attorney’s office sent him Lai’s text messages last Friday as part of the discovery process for a robbery case that Lai had been called to investigate.

“It would be naive to believe these officers’ bigotry was reserved solely for text messages,” Adachi said in a statement. “It is a window into the biases they harbored. It likely influenced who they stopped, who they searched, who they arrested, and how they testified in criminal trials.”

He added: “It is chilling how casually former officer Lai dehumanizes the citizens he was sworn to serve. He wished violence upon the very people he was being paid to protect and none of his colleagues turned him in.”

CNN’s Scott Glover and Dan Simon also reported on this latest development in the text message scandal.


A LOOK BACK AT ASSISTANT SHERIFF TERRI MCDONALD’S TIME WITH THE LASD

As Terri McDonald prepares to retire from her post as LA County’s Assistant Sheriff overseeing the Custody Division, the LA Times’ Cindy Chang has tells the story of McDonald’s history and hiring, her efforts to eradicate systemic abuse and improve conditions in the jails, for both inmates and deputies, during her three years with the LASD. Here’s a clip:

In a department where jailers were accused of adopting an “us versus them” attitude, McDonald brought a gentler approach, taking time to chat with inmates about their concerns. She sought to revamp a culture in which deputies viewed the jails as an unsavory assignment before moving to patrol.

In 2013, the year she arrived, there were 10 jail suicides. Last year there was one.

The most severe injuries caused by deputies — resulting in broken bones or worse — have decreased to a handful each year. Agreements McDonald helped negotiate with federal authorities and the ACLU now govern how mentally ill inmates are treated and when deputies can use physical force.

But hundreds of inmates still are injured in confrontations with deputies each year — although most incidents are minor — and the number has been climbing. And deputies are being assaulted with increasing frequency, with some complaining that the reforms have given inmates too much power.

Still, McDonald deserves credit for curtailing the worst abuses and making the jails a more humane place with her hands-on management, said Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California and a frequent critic of the jails.

“I don’t think everything’s perfect,” Eliasberg said. “But there’s been a dramatic decrease in the brutal beatings that were quite commonplace prior to her arrival.”

In late 2012, a blue-ribbon citizens’ commission placed much of the blame for the endemic violence on the Sheriff’s Department’s top brass — and recommended that the jails be led by a corrections professional familiar with how facilities in the rest of the country are run.

Then-Sheriff Lee Baca responded by hiring McDonald as an assistant sheriff in charge of the jails. It was a major shift for an agency that always had cycled its jailers in and out of street patrol.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We at WitnessLA are grateful for what Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald accomplished in her tenure. We understand there are still problems in LA County’s jail system, and they are not trivial. One does not reverse a toxic culture overnight. And we are also concerned by the rise in assaults on deputies. But we appreciate the no-nonsense, hardworking intelligence with which McDonald approached the work, and the unfailing decency with which she approached inmates, demanding respect, but also giving it. She has made a large difference at a crucial time in the life of our jails. And we truly thank her for it.

Posted in Gangs, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

LAPD Commission Sez Venice Shooting Was Unjustified, a Bill to Bar For-Profit Immigrant Detention Contracts, and Pt. Two of MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge

April 14th, 2016 by Taylor Walker

LAPD COMMISSION SAYS FATAL SHOOTING OF VENICE HOMELESS MAN VIOLATED LAPD POLICY

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission sided with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, unanimously deciding that LAPD officer Clifford Proctor’s fatal shooting of an unarmed homeless man, Brendon Glenn, was an unjustified use of deadly force.

Video and other evidence from the May 2015 shooting led police investigators to determine that during an altercation, Proctor shot 29-year-old Glenn twice in the back while Glenn was lying on his stomach on the ground. Proctor said he believed Glenn was trying to take his partner’s gun, but the video evidence did not show Glenn’s hand to be on or near the holster, nor did Proctor’s partner do anything to indicate Glenn was going after his gun, according to the report.

In January, Chief Beck recommended that the LA County District Attorney’s Office charge Proctor in the death of Glenn. It was the first time the chief had recommended criminal charges for a fatal on-duty shooting.

In 2015, in LA, cops shot at civilians 48 times, hitting their target 37 times, and killing 22 total. In a story we crossposted with The Crime Report on Wednesday, Joe Domanick explains and gives context to the LA Police Commission’s revised use-of-force policies, which prioritize “de-escalation” techniques during confrontations to reduce the number of unarmed civilians shot by officers. (Domanick is the West Coast Bureau Chief of the Crime Report and author of Blue: the LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing.)

The LA Times’ Kate Mather has more on the commission’s decision regarding the Venice shooting. Here’s a clip:

The decision capped an 11-month review of Glenn’s death, one of several shootings by LAPD officers last year that fueled criticism of police and how officers use force, particularly against African Americans. Glenn was black, as is Proctor.

The ruling also renewed pressure on L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to file criminal charges against Proctor. This year, Beck said he had urged Lacey to charge Proctor. It was the first time as chief that Beck has called for charges against one of his officers in a fatal on-duty shooting.

Such prosecutions are rare in L.A. County, where the district attorney’s office hasn’t charged a law enforcement officer in an on-duty shooting in 15 years. An office spokeswoman said the case was still being reviewed.

Within hours of the Police Commission’s decision, local activists again called for Lacey to prosecute Proctor. Najee Ali said the ruling, coupled with Beck’s earlier recommendation, was further proof that the district attorney needed to act.

“This is a true litmus test for Lacey,” he said.

Beck said the commission’s decision “certainly supports” what he told the district attorney.

“I find many times that shootings are out of policy and they don’t reflect criminal charges,” he said. “But that’s not the case in this one.”


CA BILL WOULD MAKE CA CITIES AND COUNTIES DUMP THEIR CONTRACTS WITH FOR-PROFIT IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTERS

A new California bill sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would block cities and counties from contracting with controversial for-profit prison companies running immigrant detention centers.

“Our state and local governments should not be complicit in this awful practice of profiting off of human suffering,” Lara said. “This critical first-in-the-nation legislation would make the currently unenforceable national immigration standards the law of the land in the golden state.”

Four municipalities, including cash-strapped Adelanto, are contracting with private detention centers and would be affected by the bill.

The small city of Adelanto in San Bernardino County contracts with the scandal-plagued GEO Group, which runs a city jail and the Adelanto Detention Facility, where undocumented immigrants are held. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement pays Adelanto about $4 million a month to hold around 1,200 immigrants in its detention center. (All-told, ICE holds 62% of its detainees in for-profit detention centers.)

City Councilman John Woodard says a fourth of the city’s income comes from its contracts with the private prison group.

GEO Group, the second largest for-profit prison operator, is often accused of medical neglect and abuse, and at Adelanto and other facilities, enforces lock-up quotas—which trigger financial penalties for empty jail and prison beds.

The bill would also require the immigrant detention facilities to comply with (currently optional) federal standards, and would make it easier for immigrants to take legal action against the private prisons for rights violations.

KPCC’s Leslie Berestein Rojas has more on the bill. Here’s a clip:

With the Adelanto facility’s daily population averaging roughly 1,200 and based on the per-diem rate, ICE pays up to about $4 million a month — and more if the detention center is filled to its 1,940-detainee capacity.

But a bill sponsored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) could put an end to Adelanto’s immigrant detention contract.

“For far too long, our immigration system has promoted profits over people,” Lara told KPCC. “The goal is to prohibit these for-profit companies from profiting off the backs of immigrants.”

Cities like Adelanto depend on detention space revenue. In Adelanto, which nearly went bankrupt last year, City Council member John “Bug” Woodard, a self-described Tea Party Republican, said the GEO contracts are vital to the city’s economy.

“I think a good 25 percent of our income comes from those jailhouses,” Woodard said. “GEO is an important part of this community, and any idiot up in Sacramento that would like us not to do business with them, they’ve got their heads where the sun don’t shine.”


PHASE TWO ANNOUNCED IN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION NATIONAL CHALLENGE TO REFORM JAILS

On Wednesday, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced just under $25 million in funding for 11 jurisdictions nationwide to move to the second round of the foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which aims to “create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the country.”

The MacArthur Foundation whittled down 11 jurisdictions from an original group of 20 selected in 2015 to be mentored by experts as they created plans to reform their local jail systems.

The 11 jurisdictions are:

- Charleston County, SC
- Harris County, TX
- Lucas County, OH
- Milwaukee County, WI
- New Orleans, LA
- New York City, NY
- Philadelphia, PA
- Pima County, AZ
- Spokane County, WA
- State of Connecticut
- St. Louis County, MO

Los Angeles County was one of original 20 jurisdictions chosen last year, but did not make it to the second round of full mentoring and funding.

Los Angeles and the other eight remaining counties will receive $150,000 grants, as well as technical assistance from experts, to keep up their reform efforts as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge Network.

Posted in LAPD, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

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