On The Edge of the Line: L.A. Sheriff's Deputies Indicted For Longstanding Violent Abuse

Abby Zimet

After years of damning charges, rumors and reports, over a dozen officers at the notorious Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have been indicted for brutal and widespread abuse of inmates at county jails ranging from fracture-causing beatings to falsifying records to even assaulting visitors to the jail. The indictments come after similar findings by a lengthy FBI investigation, a report from a Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence, and a harrowing ACLU report that found (and showed pictures of) a "high incidence of head strikes and injuries" - that, despite earlier stories that deputies were regularly encouraged to beat inmates, but "not in the face," so they couldn't be called on it. The indictments, like the early reports, charge that Sheriff Lee Baca is responsible for a climate of violence "that had become institutionalized." Baca has responded "it's a sad day" when all these poeple are saying all these mean things about him. A coalition to end the violence is calling for civilian oversight to provide permanent accountability, noting that the indictments are "not the punchline." Let's hope.

“Our investigation also found that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum - in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized...The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law." - L.A. U.S. attorney Andre Birotte Jr.

A visitor to the jail

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