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Jail violence commission stresses oversight, accountability to Board of Supervisors

Posted: October 9, 2012 6:15 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2012 6:15 p.m.

If the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence has its way, the organization and administration of the Los Angeles County jail system will be fundamentally different in the near future.

The commission, formed last October in response to widespread allegations of excessive use of force by sworn Sheriff’s Department deputies working in county jails, presented its official findings and recommendations Tuesday during a special meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Among the commission’s more than 60 recommendations was the creation of an Office of the Inspector General, a position that would consolidate some existing review processes in the Sheriff’s Department. The commission also recommended the creation of a new assistant sheriff position charged solely with management of the jail system.

Richard Drooyan, the commission’s general counsel, said it was also important for the sheriff to be responsible for filling that position.

“That accountability is essential to have the jails reformed and operated in a safe manner,” Drooyan said.

Miriam Aroni Krinsky, the commission’s executive director, said commission members were troubled by what they perceived to be a failure of leadership in the Sheriff’s Department.

Krinsky did say, however, that instances of deputy-on-inmate violence in the jail system appear to have fallen since Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca became more directly involved with system oversight in the past year after many of these issues were brought to light.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas asked if the goals of the commission might be better served if the supervisors were not charged with overseeing additional oversight into the Sheriff’s Department, given the board’s other duties.

He also expressed concern with the “discretionary” nature of the commission’s recommendations.

“We need to fashion this in a way that is buttressed by a force of law,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Supervisor Don Knabe said he thought it necessary for the board to take an active role in ensuring that the recommendations of the commission are implemented.

“At the end of the day we are responsible for this,” Knabe said. “So we have to begin through cooperation with the sheriff to do what we have to do. That’s how you’re going to change things internally.”




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