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Supervisors Call For Jail Reforms, Propose Commission

sheriffbadgeBy Leon Worden/SCVNEWS.com

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider two last-minute motions Tuesday focusing on Sheriff Lee Baca's handling of the county jail system.

 

A motion by Supervisor Gloria Molina calls for the immediate implementation of a dozen recommendations made recently by the board's Special Counsel Merrick Bobb and the county Office of Independent Review. Merrick Bobb's latest semiannual report cited a need for better training and record keeping within the Sheriff's Department.


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A second motion by supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas would create a new Citizen's Commission on Jail Violence, chiefly to investigate deputies' use of force.

“The American Civil Liberties Union – Southern California , which has long served as the county's jail monitor under the Rutherford case, recently reported a series of affidavits signed by inmates and, for the first time, by four non-inmate volunteers and jail observers, all testifying to a series of fearsome and unprovoked physical attacks,” the motion states. “Some of these were attacks by deputies on inmates; others were inmate-on-inmate attacks which were allegedly facilitated or encouraged by deputies.”

The motion notes that “these and similar allegations” have prompted FBI probes that could “lead to extremely serious consequences for the governance and oversight of the Sheriff's Department.”

“We trust that the ongoing FBI and Sheriff's investigations into the facts will ferret out the truth and lead to appropriate disciplinary action and criminal prosecution of wrong-doers,” Yaroslavsky and Ridley-Thomas say in their motion. Nonetheless, their motion says, the Board of Supervisors has a “responsibility to initiate and carry out a community-level review of alleged inappropriate use of force by deputies assigned to the jail.”

That oversight would come from a new citizen's commission, a five-member panel with one appointee by each supervisor.

Fifth District Supervisor Michael D. Anonovich said he will appoint retired federal Judge Dickran Tevrizian of Pasadena.

“Through his unique experience and keen judgment,” Antonovich said in a statement, “Judge Tevrizian has demonstrated his solid credibility and integrity as a jurist and a public servant.”

Tevrizian was a municipal court judge from 1972 to 1978 and a superior court judge from 1978 to 1982. In 1985 he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan for the federal bench, where he served until his retirement in 2007.

Molina's separate motion calls for surveillance cameras in Men's Central Jail and other facilities; the use of “smaller and lighter” flashlights to subdue inmates; the elimination of steel-toed shoes; the elimination of striking an inmate's head against a floor or wall; the rotation of deputies between facilities every six months; and changes to the way inmates report alleged abuses.