Pasadena League of Women Voters Tackle Concerns Over Prison Abuse in County Jails

Published : Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | 5:59 AM

In response to concerns that reforms started under Sheriff Lee Baca are being abandoned, the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area is sponsoring a symposium on jailhouse abuses.

“Abuses Not Okay,” is a free public forum about jail-abuse reforms in Los Angeles County to be held Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Altadena Public Library.

In a statement, the LWV-Pasadena Area said concerns are being raised at the County Board of Supervisors, in oversight organizations, and among citizens that the LA County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is abandoning jail-abuse reforms started by Baca whose term ended in disgrace..

“LASD now claims deputies were unfairly fired for misconduct, and aims to reverse the reforms that followed,” the organization said in a statement. “Many previously fired deputies are being rehired. Internal investigations of deputies alleged to have committed misconduct have been halted, and other reforms reversed. For example, deputies’ heavy metal flashlights, often used to abuse jail inmates, were forbidden and now have returned.”

The group said these perceptions are occurring less than a decade after a federal investigation into jail abuse in Los Angeles County exposed a culture in which LASD deputies beat and humiliated inmates, covered up misconduct and formed aggressive deputy cliques in the county jails.

The investigation eventually led to Lee Baca’s second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, being convicted on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges by a federal jury.

Tanaka was sentenced in 2016 to five years in federal prison for civil rights abuses inside the nation’s largest urban jail system. A year later, Baca was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the obstruction scheme. Baca is free on appeal.

During Tuesday’s forum, Sharon Kyle, publisher of LA Progressive who’s also on the national and Southern California boards of the ACLU, will moderate a three-member panel composed of Brian K. Williams, Executive Director of the LASD Civilian Oversight Commission; R. Sam Paz, a civil rights attorney and ACLU SoCal board member; and Dr. Melina Abdullah, Chair of the Pan-African Studies Department at Cal State LA and founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.

Elisa Arcidiacono, justice deputy in the office of Count Supervisor Kathryn Barger, is also expected to attend to address the legal implications of the reforms being reversed.

November 12, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Altadena Public Library, 600 East Mariposa Street in Altadena. Call (626) 798-0965 or visit www.lwv-pa.org.

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