Sheriff Baca — Fix the L.A. County Jails!

January 9, 2012 Everyone recognizes that the L.A. County’s jail system is broken. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has been on the job for 13 years. Enough time to right a sinking ship. Much like the Sheriff of Nottingham in days of olde, he is the proverbial lord of the manor. Which makes it more egregious is that he shifts the responsibility to others, instead of taking action and being part of the solution.

The Feds Got it Right!: Allegations of inmate abuse and deputy malfeasance prompted a recent federal investigation. In October, Sheriff Baca was enraged that there was an investigation and even blamed the FBI as the source of the jail trouble as a direct result of its interference / investigation. When Baca got heat from his statements, he shifted the blame to his command staff for not “informing” him of the problem. However, to date, no one has been disciplined.

Baca’s staff was fuming and said so. One top commander stated he attempted to alert Baca of excessive force used on the inmates, but was brushed aside. Another retired 32-year veteran, Robert Olmsted reported to the L.A. Times a similar story but was told that “jail culture couldn’t be changed.” Baca countered that Olmsted didn’t need to “ask for permission to solve the problem.”

Responsibility Starts at the Top: The L.A. County’s jail system is run like a quasi-military organization, with a chain of command from top to bottom and reporting from bottom to top. Baca needs to not only accept responsibility for the problems, but to fix them!

The inmates of the L.A. County jails are not choirboys or girls, but they do have the right to be remanded in a safe environment. Safe from their fellow inmates and from the deputies in charge of command and control. Leadership is from the top down.

Heading the nation’s largest jail system is no simple task, but Sheriff Baca needs to accept the responsibility for this scandal. He needs to fix it or the public will through the next election.

Protect Your Rights: The convicted as well as the accused have rights in our justice system. Our society is charged with the responsibility to protect our citizens — even those in custody. Abuses do go on, and when uncovered, they should be litigated and rectified. Whatever your circumstance, if your rights have been abridged, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.


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