Lee Baca's L.A. County Jail system, the largest in the nation, has been a large shop of horrors according to those inmates and even visitors who accuse deputies of beating them unnecessarily.

Now Baca is proposing to tear down Men's Central Jail and start over with a $1 billion redux. That's serious money, even for the deep pockets of Los Angeles County government. (Some on the Board of Supervisors want Baca to put it on the ballot if he wants it so bad).

The ACLU, for one, says if you don't rebuild it, prisoners won't come. Or something like that:

The civil rights organization wants Sheriff Baca to consider closing the ailing Central Jail (rife, it appears, with plumbing problems and other issues) for ever.

And instead of rebuilding it, they want him to assign “low-level” inmates to home detention via ankle bracelets, according to the L.A. Daily News.

That's a lot of ankle bracelets, especially at a time of state prison “realignment,” when thousands of California's low-level inmates are being transferred to county jails like L.A.'s.

Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU National Prison Project, tells the News:

The fact that MCJ is a horror and a nightmare and needs to be closed doesn't mean that we need another jail. Based on the data (collected by the pending study), there are literally thousands of low-level offenders who can be safely released, who are there for no reason than that bail was set unreasonably high and their families are unable to pay.

In these tough times, that sounds like a money saver to us. We're just not sure people who live in those communities where ankle-bracelet-wearing cons will end up will be too happy about it.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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