ACLU Renews Call to Remove Sheriff Baca Over Jail Conditions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's been a busy year for the American Civil Liberties Union. NBC4's Conan Nolan talks to the Chief Council for Southern California's ACLU--Mark Rosenbaum about some of their biggest challenges from the conditions in the county jail and Sheriff Lee Baca to the George Zimmerman trial. . (Published Saturday, Jul 27, 2013)

    Referring to it as the "cesspool of this community" the ACLU of Southern California re-stated its call for the removal of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca as head of the massive Los Angeles County jail.

    "He knew there was violence, he knew of the conditions and he looked the other way," said Mark Rosenbaum, the chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California told NBC4's Conan Nolan. "He should not be running this facility."

    The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles over conditions at the jail last year.

    The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two named plaintiffs, Alex Rosas and Jonathan Goodwin, who, the suit claims, were savagely beaten and threatened with violence by deputies of the LA County Sheriff’s Department while pretrial detainees in the jail.

    The ACLU claims the treatment of Rosas and Goodwin was not isolated – there are dozens of reports of similar brutality in the jails.

    "That sort of violence we wouldn't accept on the streets, we wouldn't accept in our community, we must not accept it in our jails" Rosenbaum said.

    The LA County jail system, the largest in the nation, has an inmate population of over 15,000. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is considering several options for replacing the 50 year old Twin Towers jail.

    The ACLU argues the facility is part of the problem.

    "It is our largest mental health facility, it is our largest homeless facility," Rosenbaum said.

    A blue ribbon commission investigating jail violence called for sweeping changes to jail management.

    Baca agreed to the recommendations, including the appointment of an independent Inspector General.

    Baca said great progress has been made in deputy oversight and in reducing violence at the jail.

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