Jails Under Scrutiny
A series of Times' stories has tracked allegations of deputy brutality and other misconduct in the Los Angeles County jail system. Got a tip? Contact reporter Cindy Chang.
7:00 AM EST, December 29, 2015
One jail inmate, clad only in boxer shorts and socks, was handcuffed to a wall for up to 11 hours.
1:34 PM EST, January 8, 2016
The arraignment of three Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials accused of handcuffing a jail inmate to a wall for hours has been delayed until February.
3:00 PM EDT, May 14, 2015
The widening scandal at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has at its center a top-secret operation that federal prosecutors said amounted to an outrageous case of obstruction of justice.
1:15 AM EDT, October 3, 2014
Federal officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities.
8:26 PM EST, January 27, 2015
Los Angeles County’s long-overcrowded jail system saw a sharp decline in new inmates after California voters approved a law last year reducing penalties for a wide array of nonviolent crimes.
9:28 PM EDT, June 9, 2015
Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to pull back a plan to rebuild the aging Men’s Central Jail and reassess the number of beds needed in a new facility.
4:07 PM EST, December 28, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown has tapped an insider with ties to major contractors to take over the helm of the state's sprawling prison system, retired undersecretary Scott Kernan.
6:00 AM EST, December 26, 2015
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department already was engulfed in a jail brutality scandal when a prosecutor in the district attorney's office examined the beating of Gabriel Carrillo.
December 26, 2015
The University of California system has sold about $30 million of its holdings in companies that operate private prisons after students voiced their opposition to such investments.
8:45 PM EST, December 20, 2015
Jason Nishimoto was not supposed to have a sheet in his jail cell, or anything to hang it from. But he did.
7:02 PM EST, December 5, 2015
About 120 inmates were involved in a fight at Men’s Central Jail near downtown, prompting a lockdown of the facility, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
9:23 PM EST, November 30, 2015
Two former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were sentenced to federal prison Monday for their roles in the beating of a handcuffed jail visitor and a scheme to cover up the assault.
5:00 AM EST, November 20, 2015
Jail inmates and their families filed a lawsuit Thursday against Los Angeles County as well as nearby counties, alleging that the fees for inmate telephone calls are "grossly unfair and excessive" and amount to a moneymaking scheme for local governments.
3:15 PM EDT, October 3, 2015
Prompted by the escape of an inmate from the Men’s Central Jail downtown, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials closed all three of the department’s jails to visitors Saturday to allow for a detailed security assessment.
9:05 PM EDT, October 22, 2014
San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies called gay, bisexual and transgender inmates "sisses" and "freak shows" and denied them access to services given to other inmates, civil rights attorneys alleged in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
2:15 AM EDT, October 17, 2015
A former deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been indicted on federal charges that he helped cover up the beating of a handcuffed man by other deputies in a county jail, the U.S. attorney's office announced Friday.
6:30 PM EDT, September 10, 2015
A long-running feud between Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and the American Civil Liberties Union heated up again Tuesday after the supervisor accused the group of not doing enough to prevent abuses in the county's jails.
5:25 PM EDT, September 10, 2015
By the end of the year, San Francisco's county jails will be among the first in the nation to house transgender inmates by their gender preference, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said Thursday.
8:00 AM EDT, September 25, 2015
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has hit upon a potentially feasible plan for working with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, targeting jail inmates eligible for deportation in a way that balances conflicting desires on both sides of the immigration debate. But a letter to the Board of Supervisors outlining the plan raised questions about how much latitude ICE agents would have inside the jails, and the sheriff needs to clarify exactly what he intends.
8:09 PM EDT, September 23, 2015
Months after the Board of Supervisors moved to limit the practice, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has authorized federal agents to operate inside jails to look for deportable inmates, saying that the new procedures “appropriately balance” public safety needs and the concerns of immigrant communities.
6:36 PM EDT, September 21, 2014
All five inmates who escaped Friday night from Madera County jail have been recaptured, officials announced Sunday afternoon.
8:39 PM EDT, September 1, 2015
The family of a 23-year-old man who committed suicide in Men’s Central Jail will receive $1.6 million from Los Angeles County to settle a lawsuit alleging that jail officials did not properly diagnose his mental illness.
10:34 PM EDT, September 1, 2015
Los Angeles County supervisors have reaffirmed their backing of a contentious $2-billion plan to build a 3,885-bed replacement for the downtown Men's Central Jail and a new women's jail in Lancaster.
2:00 PM EDT, August 16, 2014
Jesus Ysasaga had been arrested multiple times and ordered by the court to keep away from his ex-girlfriend. Two parole boards sentenced him to nearly a year in jail for stalking, drunkenness and battery.
6:00 AM EDT, August 17, 2015
The tall man with the bushy black beard gestured at his dark blue jail uniform. His shirt barely reached his navel, leaving a swath of bare skin above his waistband.
1:47 AM EDT, August 12, 2015
Setting a future course for the troubled Los Angeles County jail system, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to move at least 1,000 mentally ill offenders out of lockups and voted to build a state-of-the-art jail focused on mental health treatment.
9:52 PM EDT, August 19, 2015
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey notified the Board of Supervisors last week that their vote on a controversial downtown jail plan violated the state's open meetings law, the latest in a string of incidents in which the board has run afoul of the Ralph M. Brown Act.
4:00 PM EDT, August 18, 2015
Los Angeles County supervisors reversed course Tuesday on last week’s controversial vote to proceed with design and construction of a new downtown jail, an action some legal experts said violated the state’s open meetings law.
7:00 AM EDT, August 8, 2015
In most parts of Men's Central Jail, there is no natural light, only views of cell bars or scrums of inmates crowded in bunk beds pushed together end to end.
10:10 PM EDT, August 5, 2015
Capping years of scandal, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has agreed to federal oversight of its jail system in an effort to end abuse of inmates by sheriff's deputies and to improve chronically poor treatment of mentally ill inmates.
9:55 PM EDT, July 13, 2015
A Los Angeles County jail inmate who went for 32 hours with no food, only one cup of water and no access to a toilet seemed to have been deliberately passed over during mealtime, said a high-ranking jail official who has viewed video of the inmate’s ordeal.
12:14 AM EDT, July 11, 2014
The foul-smelling glob splattered into Deputy Stephen Vasquez's mouth and eyes.
11:45 PM EDT, May 31, 2015
The sheriff's deputies all told the same story.
9:45 PM EDT, May 27, 2015
Los Angeles County is among 20 government entities -- including cities, counties and one state -- that won a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation aimed at reducing jail populations.
10:40 PM EDT, May 24, 2014
Los Angeles County's overcrowded and outdated jail system is a headache for local officials; but for leaders of the small and economically distressed desert city of Adelanto, it's a potential windfall — or so they hope.
4:12 PM EDT, May 14, 2015
Paul Tanaka, the mayor of Gardena, was once considered the heir apparent to his boss, Sheriff Lee Baca.
8:00 PM EDT, May 13, 2015
8:45 PM EDT, May 14, 2015
What began more than four years ago as a federal investigation into brutality and corruption by deputies in L.A. County jails reached the highest echelons of the Sheriff's Department on Thursday, with two top officials indicted on charges of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to thwart the FBI.
3:19 PM EDT, May 7, 2015
Officials from around California announced Thursday that they will join in a national initiative seeking to reduce the number of mentally ill inmates in local jails.
9:19 PM EDT, April 13, 2015
Los Angeles County officials plan to spend more than $100 million over the next year to reduce abuses in the county's crowded jails, improve treatment of mentally ill inmates and divert others with mental health issues from entering lockups.
9:17 AM EST, January 12, 2015
Inmates at a downtown Los Angeles jail started a fire Sunday, forcing officials to put the jail on lockdown, authorities said.
12:10 AM EDT, October 8, 2014
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities designed to target potentially deportable immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes.
7:55 PM EST, December 12, 2013
California officials appear poised to deny Los Angeles County's request for $80 million to go toward a facility for female inmates at a proposed women's jail in Lancaster.
11:36 PM EDT, June 3, 2014
The deputy described beating inmates unprovoked, slapping them, shooting them with a Taser gun and aggressively searching them to pick a fight — something he learned "on the job." He would huddle with other jail guards to get their stories straight and write up reports with bogus scenarios justifying the brutality. If the inmate had no visible injuries, he wouldn't report the use of force, period.
12:53 AM EDT, May 17, 2014
The baby-faced deputy told a federal grand jury that his hiding of an inmate in August 2011 amounted to "kidnapping," "smoke and mirrors," and technically speaking, breaking laws. The adversary he and his fellow deputies were working against — "the boogeyman," as he put it — was the U.S. government and the FBI.
10:49 PM EDT, June 6, 2014
Citing a dramatic increase in jail suicides, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it was seeking court oversight of how the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department treats mentally ill inmates.
8:21 PM EST, January 10, 2015
Sheriff's officials convicted of obstructing a federal investigation into the Los Angeles County jails have been testifying before a grand jury as prosecutors set their sights on the highest echelons of the department, according to sources familiar with the probe.
3:13 AM EST, January 7, 2014
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, facing a tough battle for reelection amid scandals in his agency, plans to announce his retirement as soon as Tuesday, sources told The Times.
4:23 PM EST, February 9, 2013
Justin Bravo was hired as an L.A. County deputy under a 'Friends of the Sheriff' program despite concerns about his past, including two arrests
When Justin Bravo applied to be a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, background investigators noted the young man had some brushes with the law that raised red flags about his past.
5:01 PM EST, December 16, 2013
Two Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeants accused of lying to federal investigators about threatening to arrest an FBI agent secretly recorded the confrontation outside the agent's home, a federal prosecutor said in court Monday.
9:25 PM EST, January 6, 2014
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca threw his support Monday behind a proposal to set up an oversight commission for the Sheriff's Department, which has been beset by allegations of widespread misconduct and abuse of inmates in the nation's largest jail system.
8:00 AM EST, December 10, 2013
An Austrian consulate official was improperly arrested and searched by L.A. County sheriff's deputies at the Men's Central Jail, according to four indictments filed against 18 department officials.
12:28 AM EST, December 10, 2013
Federal authorities announced charges Monday against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies accused of beating jail inmates and visitors, trying to intimidate an FBI agent and other crimes following an investigation of corruption inside the nation's largest jail system.
1:23 PM EST, December 9, 2013
More than a dozen current and former "sworn officers" from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are expected to be arrested as part of a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of abuse and misconduct inside the county's jails, according to sources familiar with the arrests.
7:14 PM EST, December 9, 2013
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said the charges against 18 current and former sworn officers on allegations of jail misconduct mark a "sad day" for the department, but he denied suggestions that it represents a larger, institutional problem.
12:19 PM EST, December 9, 2013
FBI agents began arresting Los Angeles County sheriff's officials Monday as part of a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of abuse and misconduct inside the county's jails, according to sources familiar with the arrests.
12:40 AM EDT, October 18, 2013
A federal jury has found Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca personally liable in a case involving abuse of an inmate in the Men's Central Jail, meaning the sheriff could be required to pay $100,000 out of pocket.
9:54 PM EDT, October 17, 2013
A federal jury has found Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca personally liable in a case involving abuse of an inmate in the Men's Central Jail, meaning the sheriff could be required to pay $100,000 out of pocket.
12:33 PM EDT, October 18, 2013
A federal jury made a mistake this week when it found Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca liable in a case involving abuse of an inmate, a department official said.
5:38 PM EDT, September 12, 2013
Two Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wants to create an oversight commission to provide more outside scrutiny of the Sheriff’s Department.
7:47 PM EDT, April 26, 2013
A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s jailer was convicted Friday on charges related to taking a $700 bribe and smuggling cocaine behind bars, prosecutors said.
5:36 PM EDT, August 21, 2013
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay out $200,000 to a jail inmate who claimed he was beaten by two sheriff’s deputies even as he lay on the floor motionless.
9:45 PM EDT, August 10, 2013
He was already one of the central figures in Los Angeles County's jail scandal when he dropped a bombshell allegation.
7:39 PM EST, November 16, 2012
After a violent confrontation with a teenage suspect, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy took a photo of the man's bloodied face and texted it to Sgt. Eric Gonzalez, a friend who worked at Men's Central Jail.
9:12 PM EDT, October 3, 2012
Bowing to mounting pressure to fix the nation's largest jail system, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca agreed Wednesday to sweeping reforms to improve the management and oversight of his agency amid allegations of deputy brutality against inmates.
September 28, 2012
A blue-ribbon commission blamed Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on Friday for a pattern of excessive force by his deputies in the county jails, warning that Baca is running out of time to fix the problems.
September 24, 2012
Revelations of brutality by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and cover-ups inside the jails have exposed significant shortcomings in the department's civilian watchdog system, which was created to prevent such misconduct.
September 18, 2012
Along with his Taser, baton and handgun, Los Angeles County sheriff's Det. David Huelsen has a new tool for meting out justice: a point-and-shoot camera.
September 17, 2012
Facing severe criticism of his leadership, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca finds himself confronting his toughest political test since he took the helm of the nation's largest sheriff's department nearly 14 years ago.
August 28, 2012
For months, Anthony Brown fooled his jailers into believing that he was just another prisoner inside Men's Central Jail.
August 5, 2012
As part of an elite intelligence team, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies Michael Rathbun and James Sexton turn inmates into informants, looking for tips on crimes and gang activity inside the nation's largest jail system.
July 27, 2012
Under tough questioning, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his top assistant Friday told a blue-ribbon panel investigating deputy abuse that they failed to uncover problems roiling the nation's largest jail system.
July 11, 2012
It's no secret that the Los Angeles County jails are a mess. The FBI is looking into excessive use of force by sheriff's deputies. Internal affairs is investigating allegations that deputies formed a gang-like clique whose members wore skeleton tattoos. Testimony before the county's new jails commission has painted a picture of a dysfunctional department and a seemingly out of touch Sheriff Lee Baca.
July 7, 2012
The Los Angeles County sheriff's captain who ran the Men's Central Jail fostered a culture of brutality by protecting dishonest deputies and permitting his underlings to use excessive force on inmates, his former lieutenant alleged in testimony Friday.
April 5, 2012
The tiny jail on Catalina Island is hardly Alcatraz. Just ask Frank Carrillo.
July 7, 2012
The young woman sat by herself in a hallway of the bustling courthouse, nervously clasping a brown paper bag. Inside was a warm bean and cheese burrito stuffed with 24 grams of black tar heroin.
December 25, 2011
Hundreds of people have been wrongly imprisoned inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jails in recent years, with some spending weeks behind bars before authorities realized those arrested were mistaken for wanted criminals, a Times investigation has found.
November 6, 2011
Sheriff's Deputies David Aviles and Salvador Esquivel Jr. started their careers as rookies on the "3000 floor" of Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail, a place reserved for the most dangerous inmates.
October 20, 2011
The FBI probe into the Los Angeles County jails has expanded to include allegations of a man who says he was beaten and pepper sprayed by deputies while handcuffed during a visit to see his incarcerated brother.
October 19, 2011
Contending that allegations of prisoner mistreatment have "shattered" public faith in the Los Angeles County jail system, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved on Tuesday an outside oversight committee and measures that could potentially overhaul the sheriff's use-of-force policy.
Letters and reports detailing violence, abuse and use of force at L.A. County jails.
8:55 PM EDT, October 16, 2011
In a searing self-critique, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca acknowledged that he was out of touch about problems in his jails and had failed to implement important reforms that could have minimized deputy brutality against inmates.
October 14, 2011
A code of silence among guards in Los Angeles County jails hinders investigations into abuse complaints, while deputies who report wrongdoing are sometimes subjected to retaliation by colleagues, according to the Sheriff's Department's watchdog.
October 15, 2011
Federal authorities have widened their misconduct investigation into the Los Angeles County jail system, demanding internal Sheriff's Department documents detailing deputies' use of force on inmates over several years, as well as other records.
8:06 PM EDT, October 13, 2011
In the last two years, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials have disciplined more than 30 jail employees for beating inmates or covering up the abuse, according to a report from the agency's watchdog obtained by The Times.
October 11, 2011
Last week, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca lashed out at the FBI investigation into allegations of inmate abuse and deputy misconduct in the county jails and insisted that his department was capable of policing itself. This week, Baca is taking a different and decidedly more conciliatory tone, declaring his willingness to work with federal investigators and promising to conduct a top-to-bottom review, including opening old cases.
11:00 PM EDT, October 9, 2011
Amid mounting scrutiny of deputy brutality in his jails, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca released a plan Sunday promising to reexamine allegations of abuse from the past and improve inmate safety in the future.
8:44 PM EDT, October 8, 2011
A former sheriff's deputy at the center of an FBI probe inside the L.A. County jail system implicated himself and other jail employees in four cases of improper force against inmates, according to a letter written by Sheriff Lee Baca.
1:17 PM EDT, October 7, 2011
How bad does it have to get at L.A. County's jails before Sheriff Lee Baca is either pushed into stepping aside, at least temporarily, or has the integrity to volunteer for a leave of absence?
10:49 PM EDT, October 7, 2011
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials are investigating the sudden death Thursday of a jail inmate who had been punched in the head by a deputy two days earlier.
10:58 PM EDT, October 7, 2011
Sheriff Lee Baca said he would welcome a comprehensive federal civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County jail system, a significant reversal after a week of harshly criticizing FBI inquiries into allegations of deputy misconduct.
October 7, 2011
A Los Angeles County sheriff's rookie who graduated at the top of his recruit class resigned after only a few weeks on the job, alleging that a supervisor made him beat up a mentally ill jail inmate, according to interviews and law enforcement records.
October 2, 2011
Los Angeles County jail inmates have used corrupt guards to penetrate tight security at lockups, helping fuel a lucrative drug trade behind bars, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Times.
October 1, 2011
More than 100 prisoners, many shaved and tattooed, crowded into the hard pews of the Men's Central Jail chapel and craned their necks to get a good look at "The Man."
October 1, 2011
Thousands of felons who would be sentenced to state prison are about to be funneled into county jails — a money-saving measure for cash-starved California, and a headache for local law enforcement agencies.
September 29, 2011
This week, The Times' Robert Faturechi reported that the FBI is investigating allegations of brutality and misconduct on the part of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in the jails.
September 29, 2011
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, responding to federal investigations of jailhouse abuse, for the first time offered a detailed account of an FBI undercover sting that caught one of his deputies allegedly smuggling a cellphone to an inmate.
September 28, 2011
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies brutalized inmates on multiple occasions and their supervisors failed to take complaints of the abuse seriously, according to sworn declarations from two chaplains and a Hollywood producer who volunteered in the jails.
September 27, 2011
FBI agents probing misconduct allegations in the L.A. County Jail orchestrated an undercover sting in which they paid about $1,500 to a sheriff's deputy to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate, sources said.
September 25, 2011
Federal authorities are investigating allegations of inmate beatings and other misconduct by deputies in Los Angeles County jails, with FBI agents going so far as to sneak a cellphone to an inmate to get reports from inside, according to law enforcement sources.
July 19, 2011
Several Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies have been entangled in fraud allegations in the last year, a spike that the department's watchdog says may be linked to overtime cuts pushing cash-strapped deputies to commit crimes.
June 14, 2011
The FBI is investigating allegations that two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies knocked an inmate unconscious, beat him for two minutes and then tried to cover up their conduct, authorities confirmed Monday.
May 22, 2011
The North Facility of Pitchess Detention Center was once home to some 1,600 men. Now it holds just two.
April 18, 2011
Despite a judge's order, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has refused to allow an attorney to take photographs of a client he said was beaten so badly by jail deputies that he was unrecognizable.
March 27, 2011
A Los Angeles County jail inmate who expressed concerns about his safety was strangled in his cell weeks after a judge asked that sheriff's officials reevaluate the man's custody arrangements, according to court records and interviews.
March 23, 2011
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has begun termination proceedings against six deputies who were part of what officials are describing as an aggressive group that may have used gang-like hand signs to identify themselves before allegedly assaulting two fellow deputies at a Christmas party last year.
February 8, 2011
A civilian jail monitor said she witnessed two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies treat an inmate like "a punching bag," unjustifiably beating him as he lay unconscious for at least two minutes, according to a court declaration filed Monday by the ACLU.
December 16, 2010
A Christmas party for Men's Central Jail employees turned ugly when a brawl broke out that resulted in seven Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies being relieved of duty, officials confirmed.
October 24, 2010
The allegations were serious: A group of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies escorted an inmate to a secluded spot in Men's Central Jail, beat him, pulled down his boxers and pepper-sprayed his anus and groin.
September 30, 2010
Three former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies accused of punching and kicking a jail inmate in 2006 were convicted of assault charges Wednesday.
August 26, 2010
The alleged attack inside the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles began with a simple request for a clean shirt.
August 9, 2010
The inmate's request seemed fairly benign inside the teeming, violent Los Angeles County jail. He wanted Sheriff's Deputy Peter Paul Felix to smuggle him in some decent food.
July 22, 2010
Sheriff's officials are calling it "scannergate," a scandal at the L.A. County Jail brought to light by an inmate's suicide.
July 5, 2010
Jail-issued mattresses and blankets designed to prevent suicides have failed to meet their safety goals, as several Los Angeles County inmates have been able to fashion nooses from their bedding.
May 13, 2010
Aging metal detectors at Los Angeles County's Men's Central Jail frequently break down, posing safety concerns for deputies who routinely confiscate weapons that inmates make from scrap metal, sheriff's officials said.
April 18, 2010
"Eyes closed, heads down. Focus on your breathing." The men in the sanctuary obediently followed their Buddhist chaplain's command, bowing their cleanly shaven heads and beginning their meditation ex
April 5, 2010
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has quietly filed assault charges against three sheriff's deputies accused of punching and kicking a jail inmate after he was disrespectful to a guard, according to court records.
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