DCFS Foster Care LA County Jail LASD Paul Tanaka Prison

Press May Lose Access to LA Dependency Courts, Pregnancy and Parenthood in CA Prisons, Tanaka on Concealed-Carry Permits, the LASD “Asshole Culture,” and More


Earlier this year, Michael Nash, presiding juvenile court judge in LA County, ordered that the county’s juvenile dependency courts be open to the press (unless it was established that having reporters in a hearing would be detrimental to the child). This good and important action by Judge Nash let some light into the previously shrouded dependency court proceedings, and brought a new degree of public accountability to DCFS and the court system.

On Wednesday, a California appeals court tentatively ruled that the order was not within the scope of Nash’s legal power, and that it would likely be overturned. (The final decision will be made on Dec. 19. We’ll keep you updated.)

The LA Times’ Garrett Therolf has more on the issue. Here’s a clip:

In January, Michael Nash, the presiding judge of Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, issued an order decreeing that dependency hearings, which had been presumptively closed, were now to be presumptively open to the press.

But the appeals court’s tentative ruling, issued Wednesday, said Nash’s order violated state law.

“There may be merit in effecting the reforms provided in the blanket order, but it is not the role of the judiciary to provide a more open system,” said the tentative ruling by California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight. “It is for the Legislature, not the courts, to effect changes to the system it has put in place.”


KPCC’s Deepa Fernandes has a thought-provoking interactive longread that sheds some light on the women who give birth while serving time in California’s prisons. Fernandes (and photographer Mae Ryan) documented several mothers’ experiences, including one woman who was approved to live with her daughter in a special facility for incarcerated moms with young children. In almost all cases, however, if there is not a spouse or family member willing to take the newborn, the child ends up in the foster care system or with an adoptive family.

Here’s a clip:

In the first days of 2013, Regina Zodiacal was escorted from a Santa Ana jail cell to a bus headed to the California Institute for Women, a state prison in Chino.

Zodiacal had been in and out of trouble for minor crimes for years and her conviction this time was not remarkable – armed robbery for a $66 shoplifting incident gone wrong, and forgery for cashing bad checks.

“I grew up on the streets,” said Zodiacal, who left home at 15. “I’ve always been on my own and got money in the way I knew how – and that’s fast money.”

But in one significant way, Zodiacal was different from most of the women who routinely board this bus: She was five months pregnant.

Despite all the trouble she’d been in and caused, this was the one thing she was determined not to be – the girl who “went to prison to give birth.” Yet, here she was.

Pregnant women like Zodiacal make up less than 1 percent of female prisoners – 188 California inmates gave birth in 2011 and 45 in 2012, when officials began moving prisoners to county jails to comply with a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding.

Despite their small numbers, these women have posed a thorny question for guards and rights advocates for decades: how do you balance what’s best for the community with what’s best for the babies born to incarcerated felons?

For the most part, their children are raised by someone else in the outside world – a relative, a foster parent or an adoptive family.


Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka is taking a conservative tack on the issue of concealed-weapons permits in his campaign for sheriff, promising policy reform to allow for more approved permits. In the course of the two years that Tanaka was in charge of authorizing permits as undersheriff, however, he issued only a handful—one of which was to a billionaire movie mogul who is now a supporter of his campaign.

The LA Weekly’s Gene Maddaus has more on Tanaka’s seeming double-standard. Here’s how it opens:

As he campaigns for Los Angeles County sheriff, Paul Tanaka is making a pitch to the gun-rights community by promising to reform the way the department handles permits for concealed weapons, or CCWs. In a statement on his campaign website, Tanaka calls himself “a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” and laments that L.A. is one of the toughest counties in the state in which to get a permit.

Tanaka also alludes to allegations that Sheriff Lee Baca, his opponent and former boss, takes a more liberal approach to issuing permits when the applicant happens to be a friend or supporter — allegations covered by the Weekly last year (“Sheriff Lee Baca and the Gun-Gift Connection,” Feb. 15). As sheriff, Tanaka said, he will issue permits “without favoritism.”

Yet Tanaka’s record of handling concealed weapons has been more complicated. For a two-year period when he was Baca’s undersheriff, Tanaka was in charge of issuing concealed-weapons permits. In that time, he denied the vast majority of applications he received. Of the few he approved, one went to a billionaire movie producer who is now a key supporter of his campaign.

Tanaka declined to be interviewed for this story. At a campaign event in Azusa on Nov. 21, he turned and walked away rather than discuss the issue.

However, he did respond in writing to a series of emailed questions, stating in part that when he worked for Baca, he was implementing Baca’s policies, not his own. “During my time as Undersheriff, my handling of the CCW permits was a direct reflection of the policies I was responsible to uphold by my former boss,” he wrote.

Steve Whitmore, Baca’s spokesman, takes issue with that.

“How long before Mr. Tanaka takes responsibility for anything?” Whitmore asks. “Or is it always going to be ‘I was only following orders?'”

Maddaus has also written a witty editorial on the LASD’s “asshole culture” with regard to the alleged needless handcuffing and searching of an Austrian diplomat, the threatening an FBI agent at her home, and officers’ behavior within the county jails. (Backstory on this week’s LASD indictments: here and here.) Here are some clips:

Evelin Fischer, an Austrian consul, went to the Men’s Central Jail on June 6, 2011, to pay a visit to an Austrian citizen who had been arrested. It was a routine diplomatic errand, and she brought her husband along.

While he was standing outside the visitor center, he walked a little too close to the entrance. According to an indictment unsealed on Monday, Deputy Sussie Ayala confronted him and then placed him in handcuffs.

When Fischer protested to a supervisor, she, too, was handcuffed. According to the indictment, Ayala and Deputy Noel Womack took her to a break room and searched her, though she was not suspected of a crime and should have been protected by diplomatic immunity.

As the jail scandal has unfolded over the past two years, it’s become commonplace to talk about the culture of violence within the Sheriff’s Department…

But many of the offenses outlined in the series of indictments unsealed on Monday do not fit neatly into that category. While some of the cases do involve allegations of extreme brutality, others involve misconduct of a different nature. We might call it asshole behavior.

What do we mean by “asshole”? Aaron James, a professor of philosophy at UC Irvine, has taken the trouble to answer that question with some rigor.

In his book, “Assholes: A Theory,” James defines an asshole as someone who “systematically allows himself to enjoy special advantages in interpersonal relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.”

Among his examples are people who cut in line, swerve in traffic or routinely interrupt conversations. The definition could as well apply to deputies who decide to handcuff and search a consular officer because her husband stood too close to a door…

(This is only the beginning—we really, really recommend you read the whole thing.)


We recommend you read the LA Times story by Jack Leonard, Victoria Kim and Robert Faturechi about how federal investigators are likely hoping to flip some of those whom they indicted on Monday in order to—so to speak—catch larger fish, particularly with regard to an obstruction of justice case having to do with allegedly hiding federal informant Anthony Brown. We agree with the Times. By all accounts, Monday’s 18 indictments are not an end point, but a starting point.


  • For once I agree with Steve Wittless. When is Tanaka ever going to take responsibility for anything he did at LASD? We all know the truth, but he is too arrogant to acknowledge the damage he has done and the lies he tells. Shame on Baca for being told so many times what was going on and ignoring it. Neither one should be Sheriff.

  • Tanaka won’t ever “man-up” he never has in his entire life. Under the sole direction of him these deputies carried out what he ORDERED! He is in the fetal position under his desk at Gardena City Hall shaking like a dog crapping razor blades! No surprise no one has seen or heard from him since the indictments.

  • I’m sure the only assholes at MCJ must be the Deputies. None of those poor inmates would lie or even exaggerate. Certinally some politically connected hack from Austria ,use to having their ass kissed constantly ,were the perfect lady and gentleman when told to wait outside with everyone else.Yes ,we liberals can always tell everything that happened by listening to one side of the story espically when its what we already believe.Those terrible deputies, the great and infallible FBI will put them in their place. Isn’t that what this whole thing is about ,contempt of FBI?

  • There’s certain relieved of duty supervisor on this dept who liked to say he knew he was an “asshole” and liked to surround himself with “a-holes.”

  • First and foremost this blog is sent from all the inmates in the county jail. Thank You Mr. Olmsted for protecting us and giving us a voice, you have single handedly turned the entire jail over to us. We have control of the jails not the Deputies. Mr Olmsted you have given us the ability to punch the very Deputies who are here to protect the people from us. I thought I would never see the day when us inmates could get away with things, it makes me not wanna leave the jail, or better yet commit another crime and come back to jail. I will let all the inmates know from wayside to MCJ to vote for you as the next sheriff for Orange County.

  • # 5 John Doe

    As someone who had a front row seat to the jail culture for the last decade, I can confidently say that your viewpoint is part of the problem.

    While I do have concerns about the pendulum swinging in the other direction, the main problem with your viewpoint is that it is what has caused this mess in the first place.

    Deputies don’t want to blow the whistle on wrong doing under the misguided perception that any exposure of criminal acts by deputies, or any policy changes as a result of corruption scandals will cause us to “lose control” of the jail population.

    What this does is cause a constant growing feedback loop of criminality, corruption, cover ups and entitlement. While a deputy sees something he believes is wrong, he is shamed into silence because he is told by his peers that we can’t have investigations into wrong doing. We can’t be accountable. Because the next thing that will happen is that inmates will start to turn on us.

    So John Doe, I pose to you this question:

    Are you saying no one should blow the whistle? We should just preserve the status quo? That we should avoid confronting the demons of our collective soul as a department because we cannot risk relinquishing a power and control that we wield, based on fear and violence?

    If that’s what you’re saying, I’m truly afraid for you, and for us.

  • John Doe: I was hoping someone from the “Asshole Culture” would post something! Thanks for representing!

  • John Doe …..sour grapes…You realize your Sugar Cigar Daddy is finished. Find yourself a new juice card.

  • Uh oh….The Bloggie Bully’s are saying mean things to me….I am gonna fill out an inmate complaint. My juice card is Mr. Olmsted and he is gonna blow the whistle on you….Oh by the way I hope Mr. Olmsted could blow the whistle on the food here in the jail, it’s not very tasty.

  • Just when you think the A Holes have had enough John Doe shows up!

    You just made the guys point Doe-Jack A$$

  • I never cease to be amazed At the childishness So called professionals like deputies, police officers, State Park Police, Federal Forest Service police, Meter maid Nazis And every other asshole you put a badge on And give Authority to harass Every other citizen Or visitor. This isn’t George Orwell’s 1984. It’s Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. I encourage everyone to watch that movie Uncut. The dumbing down of this nation is almost complete.

  • I received a phone call last night from a friend saying Tanaka was about to be interviewed on the Larry Elder Show (KABC790), so I listened in. Tanaka called Olmsted a liar. The first thing that came to my mind was Tanaka is desperate, politically wounded and a political danger to himself. Remember, to a Psychopath, it’s all about them and no one else. Contempt for everyone is what guides their interpersonal relationships.

    Tonight, Olmsted was a guest of the Larry Elder Show to rebut Tanaka’s statements. Putting it in layman’s terms, “Olmsted handed Tanaka his ass.” Great interview and the difference between good and evil were on display. Their words, confidence, demeanor and autonomic responses were quite telling. Olmsted was in complete control and articulate with obvious truthful statements and recall, Tanaka displayed contained anger and quite defensive with obvious untruthful statements and deceit. A purely professional observation.

  • Paul Tanaka’s new campaign slogan:

    I support everything that I oppose.

    (and if that don’t work, blame the boss!)

  • I think someone needs to investigate Whitmore’s position. Is he LASD’s or Baca’s campaign spokesperson? Last time I checked, it was inappropriate for a Sheriff (or better yet County) employee to be conducting election/campaign duties while on County time. Whitmore should be deferring all these questions/allegations against Baca to Baca’s campaign manager or Baca himself.

  • As more things come to light, there’s less fear and intimidation. People are distancing themselves from Leroy and Paul. For every person waiting on the wave that brings the house down, there is a rising tide behind the scenes trying to flush both these turds. The less Paul and Lee say the better, but they can’t help themselves — there’s more bad news on the way. Their situation is indefensible. The palace guard is scrambling.

  • I Heard Olmsted is going to be interviewed by Geraldo Rivera and other journalists today. Tune in for more issues to be addressed.

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