Last year, WitnessLA and LA.Spot.Us collaborated to form the LA Justice Report.
Our first project was a three-part series called Follow the Gang Money detailing how Los Angeles spent its $26 million in gang violence reduction dollars.
Now, we’re launching a brand new investigative project called DANGEROUS JAILS.
Here’s the deal:
In May of 2010 the Southern California ACLU released a 64-page report charging that Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail was fostering what they described as a “culture of violence and fear,” in which certain guards routinely beat and otherwise physically abused prisoners--- sometimes to the point of severe injury. If inmates tried to report the mistreatment, said the report, those same deputies threatened them with physical harm.
Meanwhile, the ACLU jail monitors personally observed injuries ranging from broken ribs, black eyes and boot marks on inmates' backs to severe head wounds.
The report also detailed horrfic incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence that the deputies failed to stop, actively facilitated---or, in some cases, “orchestrated.”
After the ACLU document was released, Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, catagorically rejected the charges. “That allegation, absolutely false,” Whitmore told KPCC’s Frank Stoltze.
However, while local media dutifully covered the release of the report, no one seemed investigate further, and the issue vanished quickly from the public consciousness.
SO WHAT IS THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER? Is the LA County jail system really that bad?
We feel it is crucial to find out.
With these questions in mind, the LA Justice Report has launched our newest investigative project.
In the first stage of our reporting, we have already turned up a series of alarming cases.
Yet we have far more investigating still to go.
We'll give you updates as we progress. In the meantime, please help us fund this important initiative.
And, remember, unlike prisons, about 70 to 80 percent of the nearly 20,000 detainees in the Los Angeles County jail system, at any given time, are there awaiting trial, not serving time on a criminal conviction.
In other words, if a pattern of violence and abuse is truly occurring, it could affect anyone with the misfortune to be arrested and jailed, however briefly, in LA County.
UPDATE: Part 1 of this series may be found here and here!