Immigration & Justice Jail Juvenile Justice LA County Jail LASD

This American Life Does the LASD, Garcetti Says Why He Will Do the Right Thing With Border Kids….And More


This past weekend, in a show called “Mind Your Own Business” American Public Radio’s This American Life broadcast a story having to do with The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. In particular, they talked about what happened when the FBI began to investigate brutality against inmates at the LA County Jail system, and the sheriff’s department decided they didn’t like being investigated.

Here’s how the segment, produced by Nancy Updike, opened:

There’s been a big, messy, fascinating story unfolding in Los Angeles for awhile… involving two big law enforcement agencies: the LA county sheriff’s department, which is huge, and the FBI. A secret investigation got exposed. There were accusations and counter-accusations, and clandestine recordings, and by the end, a bunch of people’s careers were over.

For the story (which begins shortly after the 30 minute on the podcast) producer Updike interviews LA Times reporter Robert Faturechi. Then she plays excerpts from three of the recordings that were introduced as evidence at the recent federal trial that ended with six members of the LASD being convicted of obstruction of justice.

The first recording she plays is from 2010 in which FBI Special Agent Leah Marx, the lead investigator looking into inmate abuse at the jails, is covertly recording a conversation with Deputy William David Courson (with whom she’s on a semi-date) who told her—among other things—about what he called the “unwritten rules” of how to treat inmates. For instance, he said, “… you learn that any inmate who fights with a deputy goes to the hospital.”

They don’t have to make the first move, he says, they can just be thinking about it.

There’s lots more. So listen.


This weekend, as anti-immigration protestors around the country continqued to oppose any kind of government help for the more than 50,000 unaccompanied kids now detained who have crossed American borders in recent months, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti talked to Arun Rath of NPR’s Weekend Edition, about his controversial announcement last Tuesday that Los Angeles would help find temporary homes for many of these kids while the courts tried to sort out what to do about the ballooning humanitarian crisis.

Here’re a couple clips from the NPR interview:

RATH: Determining the final status of these children could take a while. Immigration hearings can take years to schedule. This take us sort of beyond housing to, you know, schools, health care, other services. Won’t this seriously strain city resources over the long-term.

GARCETTI: Well, you know, Los Angeles already faces the broken immigration system and its costs when we can’t award scholarships to students who are A-students and have only known the United States but might be undocumented, when we see, you know, emergency room visits and other things. There’s no doubt that there’s been a strain on local budgets, which is why I think we need comprehensive immigration reform. But this is a different issue here. This is an emergency situation. These are kids first and foremost. And then of course, you know, we do have to go through formal procedures on what will happen with them. I would love to see those things accelerated. I would love them to see, you know, a faster path to citizenship for people who already live here. I would love to see our borders secured, but that shouldn’t keep us from action at moments of humanitarian crisis.


RATH: Mayor, what would be your message to potential immigrants or those who are considering potentially risking their children’s lives to get them to this country?

GARCETTI: Well, I don’t think – the system that we have, it’s very wise. And for me, the reason that I’m reaching out is we have children that are here. But I certainly wouldn’t encourage people to send their children or for children to cross the border. That’s an incredibly dangerous journey. And I’d want people to hear that loud and clear. But just as loud and clear, I think we have an obligation, once we suddenly have children that are in our country here, to be caring about them while we determine their final status.


If you are newly grappling with this issue, for one of the quickest, clearest pictures of why the growing number of unaccompanied minors represents a different brand of immigration dilemma, we recommend reading the whole of last Sunday’s NY Times op ed by the Pulitzer-winning author of Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario.

You’ll be missing out if you don’t read the whole chilling—and informative—essay, but here’s the opening to get you started.

Cristian Omar Reyes, an 11-year-old sixth grader in the neighborhood of Nueva Suyapa, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, tells me he has to get out of Honduras soon — “no matter what.”

In March, his father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to take her to Florida. She promised to send for him quickly, but she has not.

Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the beginning of this year. A girl his age resisted being robbed of $5. She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine across the street from Cristian’s house.

“I’m going this year,” he tells me.

I last went to Nueva Suyapa in 2003, to write about another boy, Luis Enrique Motiño Pineda, who had grown up there and left to find his mother in the United States. Children from Central America have been making that journey, often without their parents, for two decades. But lately something has changed, and the predictable flow has turned into an exodus. Three years ago, about 6,800 children were detained by United States immigration authorities and placed in federal custody; this year, as many as 90,000 children are expected to be picked up. Around a quarter come from Honduras — more than from anywhere else.

Children still leave Honduras to reunite with a parent, or for better educational and economic opportunities. But, as I learned when I returned to Nueva Suyapa last month, a vast majority of child migrants are fleeing not poverty, but violence. As a result, what the United States is seeing on its borders now is not an immigration crisis. It is a refugee crisis.


And for an additional view, read this by another very experienced reporter, the Center for Public Integrity’s Susan Ferris, who writes of what she saw about kids fleeing violence ten years ago when she was based in Latin America for the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, and how much worse things have gotten now.

Ferris also writes about how dramatically different an outcome is likely to be for a child in immigration court— depending upon if he or she has a lawyer, or is without one.

Here’s a clip:

A Syracuse University project known as TRAC released a report this week analyzing more than 100,000 juvenile cases filed in the nation’s immigration courts over the last 10 years. Only 43 percent of kids in these cases were or are currently represented by lawyers who help plead for asylum or another form of legal status, according to TRAC, the acronym for the university’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Immigration courts are clogged with backlogs, but juvenile cases only represent about 11 percent of all cases currently pending.

Kids, like adults, do not have the right to the appointment of attorney in immigration proceedings.

But TRAC found that having a lawyer increased the odds that kids would win their claims against deportation: In cases that have been resolved, nearly half the children who had attorneys — 47 percent — were allowed to remain in the United States. When children did not have legal representation, courts allowed only one in 10 to remain here.


The LA Times’ Kate Linthicum has that story. Here’s how it opens:

During Sunday Mass at a sunlit cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, a 22-year-old woman stepped timidly to a podium and began her story.

“My name is Dunia Cruz,” she said in Spanish. “I came here from Honduras.”

As she spoke of the gang violence that she said drove her and her toddler son from Central America in April — and of their dangerous journey across Mexico — Cruz was interrupted by bursts of applause.

Her tale resonated with many of the transplants from other countries in the crowded church pews….


  • Hopefully, Scott Craig, Leavins, Long and the rest of the convicted criminals will not get severe, nor lenient sentencing, but rather fair sentencing for the crimes that they were convicted for and go to Jail.

    Let’s also pray that the Feds continue to prosecute the acts of the Deputies that engaged in criminal behavior so as to deter future criminal activity.

    Sheriff Pitchess and Block maintained a Dept. with high standards and integrity. Hopefully, LASD will go forward with the same degree and honor.

    In the meantime, prosecute the rest of the thugs….

  • So the narcotics bureau scandal of the late 80’s and into the early 90’s was different?

  • Where are the meaningful indictments?

    DOJ backslapping over the low level guys is ridiculous.

    The worst person in all of this is hiding in his chateaux in Pasadena.

  • ASimpleManSays: I agreed with everything you said until your next to the last sentence. High standards, most of the time, I’m speaking of Block. Pitchess was a joke, just ask any woman who worked around him. Women had to clear the hallways when they knew he was coming if they did not want to get accosted, they had to hide. And when they complained, he wanted them fired and women, especially female deputies had to be transferred and hidden.

  • I listened to the podcast (it’s around the 30min mark) and I must say, the ICIB taped conversation was quite revealing. What in the world were those two sergeants thinking? I don’t give a flying F who “ordered” me to go to an FBI agent’s home to rattle her cage when it is clear, she broke no laws (misguided with the cellphone idea), no one was swearing out a complaint, as Craig stupidly stated, nothing was pending against her, period. So who “ordered” those two sergeants to pull that stupid stunt? Anyone and everyone involved in “ordering” those two sergeants to do such an idiotic thing SHOULD be ROD, terminated and then, prosecuted. And as much sympathy I had for those two, I admit I have a lot less now after hearing the tape. If they didn’t have the backbone to say FU to whoever gave those bogus “orders,” then shame on them. It appears an IRC Clerk was the only person in this entire dipshit caper who had any stones and integrity, now there is something for conversation. Greg Thompson arrogantly asks, “Do you really want to say no to Paul Tanaka?” I know six people who wish they did. And probably a lot more by the time the Feds get done with all of this.

    And who is this moron Deputy Courson? My God, please tell me this guy has quit or been fired and is now working for the Dept of Parks and Rec.

  • I listen to the podcast as well and could only shake me head and ask, what were they thinking! But there are plenty of current Executives who still think this was okay.

    I feel terrible for these guys but the real question is where is Baca and Tanaka. Why isn’t Baca trying to right all wrongs. It is clear that Baca’s core values were/are situational.

    Look at the pay for play scam. Why did not Baca address this, particularly after Paul left. You know, investigate, hold people accountable. To many senior executives involved! And oh he had own people strong arming executives for donations! Paul’s dirty, I’m dirty, let’s just change policy and let that one go…

  • Hopefully, the Feds will turn their attention to actual crimes and threats to our nation, instead of worrying so much about ACLU complaints of force used against inmates. Attacks against deputies inside the jails have risen sharply in the past six months, as the crooks and gangsters now know that even minimal force used to restrain them will be viewed as excessive by the liberal media. Despite that, cops still need to maintain security, protect lives and property, and hopefully go home safe every night to their family. Back in the days referenced by a simpleton, far greater amounts of force were used against combative inmates and suspects. Now we get worried about hurting someone’s feelings, or appearing as if we are actually the the protectors of society that we signed up to be. The six deputies/sgts/lieutenants who were railroaded in a federal kangaroo court are all fine men and women, and most if not all of these six have done more to protect our community and put the bad man in jail than just about all of the anonymous cell soldiers posting on this site. However you want to try to spin it, kicking your partners when they are down is not what this department used to be about.

  • I see Andre Birotte was confirmed today by the Senate to become a Federal judge, a life long appointment. I’m sure his honor will be sending Thank You cards out to Paul Tanaka and Lee Baca for the Tanaka 6 trial, which was mentioned as an accomplishment during his confirmation hearing.

  • #7 Hardtimes,
    Your last sentence says it all. But if you are honest, you have to admit that over the last few years there a lot of things about our dept. that have changed; that come under the “It didn’t used to be like that” category.
    We had a delusional man leading us for 15 years. It didn’t used to be like that.
    We became a house divided. It didn’t used to be like that.
    We became a dept. of those “in the car” and those that had nothing coming. Those that were in the car had no problem with it. They did their best to alienate and piss off anybody not in the car. We had deps. and supervisors openly ridiculing and mocking deps. who’s resumes didn’t match ours. We had people who openly flaunted their relationship with the little guy and basically dared their immediate supervisors to hold them accountable for fear of suffering the wrath of the little guy. We had people that thought they were untouchable and didn’t know when to rein in their egos.
    It didn’t used to be like that.
    Now when the shit has hit the fan, should we expect ALL those people that we’ve let know they couldn’t carry our war bags to come running to our aid? Now, when we need the help, when we’re down, should we expect everybody to become united behind us?
    I’m here to tell you it most likely won’t work that way. We let them know they had nothing coming. Now they will most likely let us know we’ve got nothing coming from them.

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