No surprise here.
L.A. County Jail deputies sometimes stomp on, bash in, and literally break inmates' heads: That according to an ACLU report issued today, 48 hours ahead of the much-anticipated final findings of a separate Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence.
The ACLU says in a summary that the Sheriff Lee Baca's jail system has a “high incidence of head strikes and injuries.”
The Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence will unleash its final report Friday at 10 a.m. According to a statement it will …
… include over 77 findings that resulted from interviews with over 150 witnesses (including past and present Sheriff's Department personnel, inmates, clergy, and others), review of over 35,000 pages of documentary evidence including Sheriff's Department memoranda and data, and information obtained from experts and corrections leaders.
If you were Baca, would you be scared? Hell no. He's the Teflon Sheriff. Besides, he's been out of the loop.
In the meantime, the ACLU says head strikes comprise something of a sport inside the facilities:
There is clear evidence that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (“LASD”) deputies have used head strikes with alarming regularity in the Los Angeles County jails. In many of those incidents the head strikes have caused significant injuries. The manner and frequency of such head strikes strongly suggests an inappropriate use of force by deputies …
The ACLU bases its conclusions on “64 sworn statements from inmates, former inmates and civilian eyewitnesses taken since 2009 … “
The organization described some of the more egregious cases:
In recent years, Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies have stomped on inmates' heads, even after shackling those inmates' hands. They have bashed inmates' faces into concrete walls. They have fractured inmates' facial bones — noses, jaws, cheekbones or eye sockets. The ACLU is aware of least 11 inmates who have had their facial bones broken by LASD deputies in the past three years. One inmate has lost vision in one eye. Others have undergone surgery …
The ACLU says that the department doesn't have a cohesive use-of-force policy and often responds to inmate provocations with overreactions.
The civil liberties group says the department probably will blame the victims for these bone-breaking run-ins.
Peter Eliasberg, ACLU of Southern California's legal director:
It's always the inmate's fault — the inmate was always the aggressor. But the corroborating documents we've gathered demonstrate that the use of force is excessive regardless, whatever the provocation.
Read the whole report here.