A Former Deputy Tells Another Jail Abuse Story, A View of Realignment, More Probation Chief Blevins’ ExitOctober 7th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon
In Friday’s paper Faturechi tells of a young Sheriff’s deputy who says he was forced by his supervisor to beat a mentally disabled inmate in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown L.A.
Here’s how the story opens:
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s rookie who graduated at the top of his recruit class resigned after only a few weeks on the job, alleging that a supervisor made him beat up a mentally ill jail inmate, according to interviews and law enforcement records.
The deputy, Joshua Sather, said that shortly before the inmate’s beating his supervisor said, “We’re gonna go in and teach this guy a lesson,” according to the records. The attack, Sather said, was then covered up.
Law enforcement records reveal that the incident caused tensions in the Sheriff’s Department. Sather’s uncle, a veteran sheriff’s detective, angrily confronted the supervisor about making his nephew “beat up ‘dings,’ ” slang for the mentally disabled. He then allegedly threatened to “put a bullet” in the supervisor’s head.
Sather’s case was pieced together by The Times from department sources as well as district attorney’s documents in which Sather’s uncle revealed his nephew’s allegations to investigators.
Sheriff’s officials launched an investigation and determined that an uncooperative inmate had been subdued by force, but concluded that no misconduct had occurred. They also asked the district attorney to review the uncle’s alleged threat, but prosecutors declined to file charges.
Sather’s allegation is among several first-hand accounts of unwarranted deputy violence against inmates in the nation’s largest jail system. Last week, two chaplains and a movie producer released sworn statements that they witnessed deputies abusing inmates. But Sather’s allegations are unusual because they come from within the department’s own ranks, from the point of view of a deputy.
AND WHILE WE’RE PRAISING THE LA TIMES, GEORGE SKELTON HAS A GOOD ESSAY ON ALL THE COMPLAINING OVER REALIGNMENT.
Here’s how it opens:
The boring, bureaucratic word “realignment” masks the truly dramatic change in locking up California criminals that Gov. Jerry Brown just pulled off.
“A lot of people say, ‘Hey, what’s new in Sacramento?’” Brown told a news conference last week. “Well, this is new. It’s bold. It’s difficult. And it will continuously change as we learn from experience.
But we can’t sit still and let the courts release 30,000 serious prisoners. We have to do something.”
In truth, the change was inevitable.
Either the state began to dump thousands of its lower-risk prisoners onto local custody or it would have been forced by federal courts to dump them on the streets.
“We’ve either got to reduce the prison population or release 10,000 inmates by Christmas Eve,” says Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “That’s [equal to] two prisons.”
Complainers — such as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — are being disingenuous, at best.
Villaraigosa called a news conference Monday to denounce the state for not providing “a single dollar to help with the burden” of incarcerating and monitoring more criminals. “That is not alignment. That is political malpractice.”
Not quite. The state is sending financial help to the counties, including $124 million to Los Angeles County. It’s up to the cities to request a share. The mayor has privately told people that he won’t “go begging” to county supervisors for money, according to one state official who requested anonymity because he was reporting a private conversation.
My favorite hyperbole, however, comes from Republican State Sen. Sharon Runner of the Antelope Valley: “Now is the time for Californians to get a dog, buy a gun and install an alarm system. The state of California is no longer going to protect you.”
Let’s be honest: The politicians and the voters simply could not continue their decades-long insistence on increasing criminal sentences and enlarging the prison population without raising the money to pay for more cells and guards.
PROBATION CHIEF DON BLEVINS SAYS DEPARTURE IS VOLUNTARY
Chief Blevins told KPCC’s Larry Mantle on Thursday’s Air Talk show that he is leaving Probation to…spend more time with his family.
Among other things, Blevins said that he expects Probation to meet—or to nearly meet—all of the 41 reforms in the County’s juvenile camps required by the Department of Justice by October 31, whereas sources who work in an around the camps say this is simply not true, that the County won’t come close.
We’ll know which point of view was more factual very soon.
Zev Yaroslavsky said bluntly and quite rightly that kids in the Probation camps are simply not being given the mental health care or the education that they need.
Yaroslavsky also mentioned that probation needs a large cultural change “so that people [in probation] are expected to work for the hours that they are paid.
Doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
SCREENING FOR REALIGNMENT PAROLEES MAY NOT BE ALL THAT ACCURATE SAYS ZEV’S BLOG
Zev’s blog reports that cases are coming through where the so-called Non, Non, Nons—people who have committed non serious, non violent, non sexual crimes—have larger crimes in their background, or inmates who should not be in the category are being accidentally sent through for county supervision when in reality they should be high control parolees.
The blog reports that the Probation Department is doing it’s own screening.
Let’s hope so. The realignment strategy is a necessary change, but to avoid problems there has to be quality control in the screening process. Otherwise we got trouble.