In her Witness L.A. blog, Celeste Fremon talks to a prisoner stuck in the crowded county lockup. "Al," as she calls him, is nursing a bum knee created by a mishap that occurred when he was sliding down from a three-tiered bunk bed. That's how sardine-can-like the Men's Central Jail has become. The packed-in conditions have prompted the American Civil Liberties Union -- and even Sheriff Lee Baca -- to call for its closing. The ACLU has especially been on the warpath over the jail since the March 30 death of inmate John Horton, a 22-year-old man who hanged himself in a closet-sized cell after spending a month in the lockup.
"They're supposed to have like, little ladders or a step or something, but they don't," Al says of the high-rise bunks. "So you either have to jump down or you step on the bunks below you. Every time I get out of bed, I go the excuse me route. In other words, I say, excuse me, excuse me, with every step on the way down."
Even though County General told him his knee may require surgery if it doesn't heal, Al's jailers wouldn't allow him for a while into a bottom bunk. And they confiscated the leg brace given to him by the hospital. But at least now Al is sleeping close to the ground.