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ACLU calls for Sheriff Baca to step down over county jails abuse claims

The ACLU is calling for stricter measures in L.A. County jails after revealing cases of severe violence against inmates.
September 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for a full criminal and civil rights investigation of Los Angeles County jails after revealing cases of extreme violence against inmates by sheriff's deputies.

The ACLU made its demands after releasing a 26-page report on jail conditions Wednesday that included 70 sworn statements, including affidavits by two chaplains and a Hollywood producer who volunteer at the downtown Men's Central Jail.

The organization called for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to resign, accusing him of malfeasance and misfeasance in office because of all of the events they say took place in the jails that Baca should have known about.

The ACLU's report details hundreds of complaints where deputies have hit and kicked inmates and at times severely beaten them. The organization states all of these incidents lead back to Baca, who they say should have been overseeing these events.

According to the report, there are gangs of deputies going back as far as the 1970s that continue to operate in the L.A. County jail system.

"To an astonishing level, violence by deputies against inmates, violence by inmates against other inmates, that was either condoned or arranged or ignored by guards are components of the way the Los Angeles jail system is run, and the way it's run by Sheriff Leroy Baca," said Thomas Parker, former special agent in charge, L.A. Regional FBI Office.

ACLU of Southern California legal director Peter Eliasberg said when beaten inmates are interviewed as part of the sheriff's department's force investigation, the deputy or deputies who beat them are often standing in the same room while the interview is conducted.

Baca said he takes any mistreatment seriously and pointed to the fact that 16 deputies have been fired in the last three years.

"I will not tolerate excessive violence in Los Angeles County jails. The core values of the sheriff's department are humanitarian, civil rights-related core values. Our goal is to out-ACLU the ACLU," said Baca.

The ACLU is a court-appointed monitor of the L.A. County jail system.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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