Citizens' commission reports on jails upgrades


Allegations of inmate abuse and corruption at L.A. County's two downtown jails led to a federal investigation and deputies being indicted. But before that, there was the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence, tasked with reforming the facilities.

"Progress is being made. I think it's fair to say that," said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Ridley-Thomas was reacting to a report presented Monday that outlined various reforms that have taken place since the commission was formed in 2011.

"The commission ultimately decided to focus on those recommendations that it thought were achievable in the short term," said Richard Drooyan, general counsel, Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence.

The commission has made numerous recommendations to the county Board of Supervisors. Tuesday's report outlined those that have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. They include 17 additional officers assigned to the custody training and standards bureau. Forty-four additional supervisors have been assigned to custody operations.

The jails are currently upgrading their computer tracking system and by the end of the year, 350 closed-circuit cameras will be installed and operational.

"There are obviously various ways to do the organization of the department, and I think the commission's recommendations were based upon the management style of Sheriff Baca," said Drooyan.

Interim Sheriff John Scott told Eyewitness News last week that he is interested in implementing his own reforms as well.

"The Board of Supervisors through the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence has put additional supervision in the jail. So I think we're getting back to a level that's appropriate, and I think through the training and through the discussions we've been having, we're getting back to the primary responsibilities of those first-line supervisors."

But Supervisor Ridley-Thomas worries that deputies could be receiving conflicting messages.

"That's a very big issue, and that's what we need to hone in on, and that's what we hope to do," said Ridley-Thomas.

The seven candidates running for L.A. County Sheriff are scheduled to meet at a forum at the Hall of Administration by a union representing sheriff's deputies on Wednesday night. Deputies will be able to ask questions. The public and the media are not invited.

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