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."
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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.