Yaroslavsky, Ridley-Thomas to propose jail commission

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky blogs tonight that he and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will introduce a motion Tuesday to create a citizen’s commission to “conduct a review of the nature, depth and cause of the problem of inappropriate deputy use of force in the jails, and to recommend corrective action as necessary.”

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a steady and serious stream of allegations involving excessive force inside Los Angeles County’s jail system, allegations that are undermining public confidence in our commitment to the constitutional protections afforded inmates.

Media and advocacy organizations have detailed numerous cases of alleged inmate mistreatment that, if true, suggest a breakdown of accountability and discipline within the agency that runs the jails, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. These incidents are notable not only because of the alleged ferocity of the beatings but because some of them were reported by civilian observers who say they were shocked and scared by what they witnessed.

Allegations of brutality in the nation’s largest jail system are not new, and the Sheriff’s Department itself can rightly point to a history of firing and disciplining deputies who’ve been accused of excessive force. I feel confident that the vast majority of deputies are conducting themselves appropriately in the stressful environment of our overcrowded lock-up. But there appears to be a certain brazenness in these recent cases that raises questions about whether a culture of disregard for the constitutional rights of inmates is taking root among some deputies.

Also today at the county: Probation chief Donald Blevins officially delivered his resignation.


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