Inmates must speak up to defend their civil rights: Uncovering corruption, discrimination, and brutality in Los Angeles County jails.

The past few years have been troubling for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and its supervision of Los Angeles County jails. Numerous reports of brutality and racial discrimination have surfaced leading to the resignation of L.A. County Sheriff Leroy Baca in 2014. Last week, Baca pled guilty to a felony count of making a false statement to federal prosecutors regarding a previous jail abuse scandal[1]. Baca’s recent admission confirms the long-suspected corruption many feared had permeated the highest levels of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. In his plea agreement, Baca admitted that after learning of the FBI’s secret investigation into L.A. County jails that he instructed sheriff’s investigators to confront and intimidate an FBI agent outside of her home. Baca also allegedly lied about both being privy to conversations about keeping an inmate FBI informant away from FBI agents during the investigation, and about knowing that his deputies interrupted an interview between FBI agents and that same inmate informant.

Each day we must remain vigilant to keep inmates in cities throughout the country from enduring excessive force and brutality at the hands of deputies like those that worked under Baca. With corruption like this at the highest level, inmates need to be loud and clear when their rights are violated. These Constitutional violations must be uncovered and cannot go unpunished.  As Fyodor Dostoevsky sagely observed, “You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners”. What do these events say about the rest of us who remain silent?


– By Ara M. Baghdassarian, Esq., Barnes Law

Ara M. Baghdassarian is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.