6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
HvlSxHY-show-poster2x3-4ik43uV.png

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Sheriff Baca Takes Heat for Prisoner Abuse in L.A. County Jails

Support Provided By
Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles County | Courtesy the ACLU of Southern California
Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles County | Courtesy the ACLU of Southern California

It's been a bad week for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

He is under intense heat over the conduct of his deputies in the jail system, with a damning new report on prison conditions from a court-appointed monitor shedding light on related federal investigations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, a court-appointed monitor of prison conditions in L.A. County, released a report on Wednesday documenting hundreds of inmate complaints about deputy-on-inmate abuse. The report also includes testimony from civilian witnesses, including two chaplains and a volunteer tutor.

One chaplain, who was not identified in the ACLU report, recalled that "he saw four or five deputies repeatedly kicking an inmate. The inmate was lying motionless, facedown on the ground. His hands appeared to be tucked behind his back; they remained there throughout the attack. The inmate pleaded with the deputies to stop, yelling, 'help me.'"

"I was afraid that if I had tried to stop the beating or even just yell at the deputies to stop, they would come over and hurt me," the chaplain said, according to the report.

The revelations come at a bad time for the sheriff.

His department is already under investigation for deputy misconduct in the jail system by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The FBI investigation -- the full details of which have not been disclosed -- is looking into multiple reports of abuse of inmates by the prison guards who are supposed to ensure their safety.

But the FBI is tracking more problems in the L.A. County jails than just police violence against inmates.

The FBI paid a deputy $1,500 to smuggle a cell phone into the beleaguered Men's Central Jail, the Los Angeles Times reported, and then busted the sheriff's deputy in an undercover sting operation.

Sheriff's deputies have also been implicated for smuggling narcotics into the prison system for inmates, as detailed in another exclusive report by the Times.

But Baca told the Times that he knows that he has a problem.

"Some deputies are not getting it," he said. "And it didn't take the ACLU or anyone else to tell me that."

annenberg-school-of-journalism

Mary Slosson is a graduate student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which has partnered with KCET-TV to produce this blog about policy in Los Angeles.

Support Provided By
Read More
A group of mules lined up and reined together gallop down a commercial street. Spectators watch on the sides of the road and a mountain landscape fills the background.

Y luego hubo dos: Inyo y Merced atrapados en el nivel más estricto

Al no poder cumplir con los criterios estatales de infección por COVID-19, los condados de Merced e Inyo aún no pueden reabrir la mayoría de las empresas. El estatus de los condados amenaza un gran evento del Día de los Caídos en Bishop, por lo que la ciudad ha pedido al estado que reconsidere los requisitos de su condado rural.
A group of mules lined up and reined together gallop down a commercial street. Spectators watch on the sides of the road and a mountain landscape fills the background.

And Then There Were Two: Inyo and Merced Stuck in Strictest Tier

Unable to meet state COVID-19 infection criteria, Merced and Inyo counties still can’t reopen most businesses. The status threatens a big Memorial Day event in Bishop, so the town has asked the state to reconsider its rural county requirements.
Maria Gutierrez teaching LAUSD preschoolers from the virtual classroom she's created in her home.

Preparing to Go Back to Preschool in A Pandemic: 'Fun, but in A Different Way'

With kids under 5 returning to the classroom — some in person for the first time — get ready for Big Feelings from adults and little ones alike.