LA County’s New Assistant Sheriff of Custody Operations


On Tuesday, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced that Kelly Harrington would take over for Assistant Sheriff overseeing the Custody Division Terri McDonald. (In December, McDonald announced she would be retiring this spring.)

“Kelly Harrington brings to Los Angeles County a wealth of experience in promoting and sustaining improvements in the field of corrections today,” said Sheriff McDonnell.

Harrington served as Director of the Division of Adult Institutions for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since January 2015. From 2013 through 2014, Harrington was Deputy Director of Facility Operations. Harrington also previously served as warden of Kern Valley State Prison and held various other positions at Wasco State Prison, California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, and the CDCR.

In an interview with Dana Simas, the CDCR’s Public Information Officer, Harrington discussed the ongoing culture shift toward rehabilitation in California’s prisons, and how reducing overcrowding creates a safer environment for inmates and prison staff. “When you’re overcrowded you tighten up more, you do more searches, you tend to have more violence so you have increased lockdowns and modified programs,” Harrington said.

The incoming Assistant Sheriff also pointed out that more rehabilitative services and programs create safer conditions within the prison walls. “Fewer programs means more downtime and that’s when inmates start getting into trouble,” said Harrington. “I’d rather have one hour of what looks like chaos with a bunch of inmates going to their programs than a bunch of inmates with nothing to do for hours.”

During hunger strike negotiations over solitary confinement conditions and indeterminate isolation, Harrington defended department policies criticized by advocates, CA Senator Holly Mitchell, and judges.

Harrington is expected to relocate from Sacramento to Los Angeles at the end of March.


  • Well lets think about this one. How long will it take this person to understand the structure of the department hmmmmm. Who will he trust? Same old stuff different day. CDC is doing a great job right? Why don’t we start by giving CDC back all of their inmates and 5150s.

  • It’s no longer a matter of facts, substance and reality but “appearances”. It’s all about “transparency” and how “it looks” to the masses. Until LASD can get to a point were “reality”, “GOOD common sense” and “practicality” are the guiding lights, it will be more of the status quo.

  • Lol. Bringing in another CDC big shot eh? Yeah, great idea! We all know how well that worked out with Big Red. The new sheriff might not be a scandalous ding like the last one, but the new guy is definitely proving he is tone deaf. With morale at an all time low, he makes a move like this that will further alienate not only the troops but his execs. also.

  • Can or do these “civilian” Assistant Sheriff’s even carry a gun? The patients now run the asylum and these “tools” are now running our custody dicvision (no spelling error, there folks) because the line staff is now getting d*cked again! Can we please get a golden parachute? and not a golden shower by the brass?????

    Peace…..stay safe my brothas and sistas…….

  • It occurs to me that Sheriff McDonnell is insisting on hiring an outside “expert” to run our custody operations because he has to pretend that an outsider, just like him, is capable of taking over a complex operation and effecting organization change.

    Memo to McDonnell: Big Red was Exhibit A of why your “fresh eyes” bullshit thinking doesn’t work, you are Exhibit B, and now this empty suit from CDC will be Exhibit C. In a HEALTHY organizational environment, that would work. In a poisonous, dysfunctional, corrupt, back-stabbing, incompetent management group, that is a recipe for disaster.

    My initial assessment of you, Jim, was that your “fresh eyes” would take a while to acclimate, but eventually you could effect positive change. My revised assessment is that you don’t have a friggin clue what you are doing, and you have set back reform for an entire generation. You are just hoping to bide time until you can land that next job that has higher visibility, pay, and less challenges. I’m sure the LA Times will continue to crank out fluff pieces on all the wonderful things you are doing to reform the LASD. It worked for your predecessor, the “quirky” Sheriff Baca.

    Nice “opportunity,” eh Jim?

  • Hey LATBG,
    Sounds like you’re realizing that McD is going to be around for a while. Your frustration re: the Times “fluff” is evident.
    Lol. He can be a do nothing, ineffectual, incompetent, tone deaf and blind sheriff. As long as the LA-D Machine will provide cover for him, he’ll be around as long as he wants to be.
    I don’t like it any more than you do. Never the less, it’s a reality.

  • The reason that the LASD has made it a practice to hire former CDC Executives, is that the Los Angeles County jails have in fact, become PRISONS! (thanks to “realignment” – A “disaster” discussion for another day).

    Unfortunately our Los Angeles County jails are NOT prisons. They were in fact built as jails. I’m surprised that ALADS hasn’t begun pursuing an “out of class” class action lawsuit for all Custody Line personnel.

    Mr McD – you cannot hide the departmental failings behind the continued hiring of CDC administrators, and think that this hiring move will cover your “6 o’clock” for all of the jail failures. Perhaps you forget that YOU ALONE are responsible for seeing that the “jails” are run in a means by which it is, first and foremost, safe for your employees; that which is fiscally prudent; and, that which is humane for inmates.

    With that said – Mr McD – you are continuing to fail your department. Why can you not see that the corruption continues, around you? The corrupt greet you in the morning, take your coat, adjust your schedule, drive you around and advise you HEAVILY on personnel matters.

    And while you continue to ignore the input from scores of current and former LASD employees who would help you recognize the corrupt, you continue to promote the corrupt. That the promotions you have made, consisting of “Baca” & “Tanaka” loyalists, is evident to everyone.

    p.s. It would be interesting for someone to check into the connection between a recently implemented inmate classification program that was funded (and is owned, and which was forced upon the department) by a current sitting, and longtime, Custody Division executive, and that very executive.

  • Into The Storm… true it I’d. Nobody wants to face the facts..hold the hot potatoe and own the problems that have been dumped on LASD. CDC is using it as a “defecto prison” and The Department of Mental Health is uding it as a “defacto mental health facility”. None of the facilities were ever built for those purposes nor were the employees trained to work in those environments. It’s a shame LASD let’s itself become the scapeout for a government that doesn’t want to build more prisons or mental health hospitals. LASD and it’s line staff employees got the short end of the stick all around it would seem.

  • Another dude for assistant Sheriff of custody. The Sheriff is a joke. I am counting my retirement days too. This Department has gone to the toilet just like LAPD.

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