Dec 07 2011

On-Going Investigation Shows Sheriff Baca Knew Of Abuse in LA Jails But Ignored It

Scrutiny into Los Angles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s mishandling of reports of inmate abuse by deputies in LA county jails is intensifying. In October the FBI went public with its investigation into the allegations, and recently a top commander under Baca said the Sheriff ignored warnings – contradicting Baca’s claims of ignorance. On Sunday the Times reported that Baca failed to refer cases of deputy-on- inmate assault to prosecutors in cases observers say clearly warranted criminal investigations. Many of these cases involved deputies punching, kicking, and otherwise using force that resulted in serious trauma, including brain swelling and hospitalization. In the past, Sheriff Baca has denied widespread abuse, and more recently he has blamed everyone from the FBI to subordinate employees for exacerbating the problem. On Friday a biting LA Times editorial doubted, “whether [Baca] is capable of running, let alone reforming, the nation’s largest jail system.” Reform, long pushed by prison and civil rights advocates has only recently become a mainstream concern despite years of complaints about violent deputies terrorizing inmates. In October we talked with investigative journalist Matthew Fleischer about part one of his series, Dangerous Jails, an in-depth look at inmate abuse and Sheriff Baca’s refusal to act. Matthew Fleischer is back with us today to discuss part two in his three part series which was just published. The final installment is due to be published early tomorrow on Witness LA.com.

GUEST: Matthew Fleischer, an award winning LA-based journalist and editor who has been a staff writer with the LA Weekly and senior editor of the LA City Beat. He is currently a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, editor for Fishbowl LA, and he writes for several other outlets both print and online.

Read Dangerous Jails Part 2 here

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