ACLU LA County Jail LASD The LA Justice Report

The LA Justice Report – Project 2: DANGEROUS JAILS

Last year, as most of you know, WitnessLA and
collaborated to form the LA Justice Report.

Our first project was the three-part series called Follow the Gang Money detailing how Los Angeles spent its $26 million in gang violence reduction dollars.

The results got attention from local media
such as the LA Times, LA Weekly, LAist, FishbowlLA, KPFK and LA Observed, (and more as can be seen here and here)—and at city hall (where not everyone was pleased).

Now, we’re launching a brand new investigative project called DANGEROUS JAILS.

Here’s the deal:

In May of 2010 the Southern California ACLU released a 64-page report charging that Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail was fostering what they described as a “culture of violence and fear,” in which certain guards routinely beat and otherwise physically abused prisoners— sometimes to the point of severe injury. If inmates tried to report the mistreatment, said the report, those same deputies threatened them with physical harm.

In addition to reports from inmates, the ACLU jail monitors say they personally observed injuries ranging from broken ribs, black eyes and boot marks on inmates back, to severe head wounds.

The report also detailed horrific incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence that the deputies failed to stop, actively facilitated—or, in some cases, according to the report, “orchestrated.”

After the ACLU report was released, Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, catagorically rejected the charges. “That allegation, absolutely false,” Whitmore told KPCC’s Frank Stoltze.

However, while local media dutifully covered the release of the report, no one seemed investigate further, and the issue vanished quickly from the public consciousness.

OKAY SO WHAT IS THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER? Is the LA County jail system really that bad?

We feel it is important to find out.

With these questions in mind, The LA Justice Report has launched our newest investigative project: DANGEROUS JAILS.

In the first stage of our reporting we have already turned up a series of alarming cases. (More on this soon.)

Yet we have much investigative work still to go.

As with the Follow the Gang Money series, award winning journalist, Matt Fleischer, will be reporting for the project, while I act as editor. Yet the interim updates will come from both of us.

As time goes along, I’ll be bugging everyone here to participate in short Spot.Us questionnaires that allow you to donate money to the project without taking $$ out of your own pocket.

And, remember, unlike prisons, about 70-80 percent of the nearly 20,000 detainees in the Los Angeles County jail system at any given time, are there awaiting trial, not serving time on a criminal conviction.

In other words, if a pattern of violence and abuse is truly occurring
, it could affect anyone with the misfortune to be arrested and jailed, however briefly, in LA County.

More to come, so stay tuned.


  • A pattern of violence, you mean like the type directed more and more at law enforcement these days Celeste? You mean like the gunfire that killed two officers this year already?

    Oh yeah and a gangster shot a deputy in the face last night in ELA. The dep will survive but thankfully the scum gangster won’t be costing the taxpayers anything further.

  • Gee, Sure Fire, I abhor both kinds of violence. As you must have noticed, I posted about the deputy late last night, who sounds like the most outstanding of men, and whose shooting by some cowardly fool should horrify us all. I plan to post about him again tonight.

    But if men and women in uniform are misusing that power to do harm to people inside the county’s jail, we need to know. I’m stunned that you seem to object.

    I just interviewed a man this evening who told me yet one more hair raising story.

    The point of this project is to, to whatever degree we can, get to the bottom of some of these reports.

  • I don’t object, I reject it out of hand for the most part. These people that you care about are for the most part scum and I care very little about them. Would you like to argue that they aren’t? They act like animals and assholes on the street that gets them locked up in the first place so why would I believe these same people would act out in a different matter in a custody setting? What makes you think they would?

    I have a very close friend I grew up with whose worked all types of custody settings and is currently at CIW. He says they should be paid less and the guards at the men’s prisons should be paid way more. He’s told me stories of assualts on guards and even murses and doctors that are nothing but the work of the worst of society.

    Both he and I hate the stench of a dirty cop or guard, I’ve never denied that. To think it rises to the level people liek you and other ACLU types believe is to throw facts and a history of violence and lies, which makes up so many prisoner’s rap sheets, right out the window.

    To be as clear as I can be Celeste I’ll never deny that the illegal or out of policy actions of a small percentage of law enforcement officers and custodial officers should be dealt with and people disciplined, fired or prosecuted as needed. To believe that problem is as bad as you and people like you think it is isn’t in my opinion, based on my own experience and conversations with people who have stellar reputations and work ethics, credible.

  • Most gang members are just lost. They’re good people with good souls, who come from good families. As someone who’s worked with the ACLU and has spoken to several gang members, it amazing he how smart most of them are, too. They can do anything if they put their mind to it. They’re good kids. They just need guidance. Hopefully this report can clean out the abusive guards at LA County Jail so that these lost souls caught up in the fast life will have an environment where they can improve themselves as opposed to an abusive environment that just leads to more violence.

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