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ACLU Cites Abuses, Demands L.A. County Sheriff Step Down

The ACLU has demanded the resignation of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca after the civil rights organization issued a report that he had willfully ignored a growing culture of violence and abuse by jail deputies against inmates.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a court-appointed monitor of jail conditions, released the 22-page report Wednesday after an extensive investigation yielded sworn statements from 70 people who witnessed or fell victim to deputies’ unchecked violence, including two chaplains and a Hollywood producer who volunteered at the Men’s Central Jail.

The ACLU said it received thousands of complaints about brutality within the 15,000-inmate jail system last year. However, Baca, who disputed the claims in the report, said he would not step down. –BF

The Associated Press:

The ACLU demanded the four-term sheriff’s resignation, saying he and his top commanders are willfully indifferent to claims made by inmates and civilian jail visitors that deputies routinely viciously assault inmates.

In one case, an inmate at the downtown Men’s Central Jail said deputies accused him of stealing mail then punched him, breaking an eye socket, and marched him naked to a cell occupied by two gang members.

Deputies repeatedly ignored the man’s cries for help as the gang members raped him while another inmate flushed his head down a toilet to muffle his screams, the man, who had been jailed for making criminal threats, said in a sworn declaration.

It is “a jail system and a sheriff’s department running a jail system through corruption, through intimidation, through unchecked violence and negligent, perhaps even nonexistent, supervision and management,” said Tom Parker, a former FBI special agent in charge who conducted an investigation of the jails for the ACLU. “I have never seen anything that approaches the patterns of violence, misfeasance and malfeasance that particularly infects the Los Angeles County jail system.”

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