Los Angeles County’s main jail is so outdated, understaffed, and riddled with security flaws that it jeopardizes the lives of guards and inmates, the county’s expert on the jail system says, according to the Los Angeles Times. Special counsel Merrick Bobb sharply criticized Men’s Central Jail for failing to prevent dangerous inmates from being housed with lower-risk inmates and said the design ensured that any response to an inmate takeover would be extraordinarily bloody. The 6,338-bed jail, the nation’s largest, “is nightmarish to manage” and suffers from “lax supervision and a long-standing jail culture that has shortchanged accountability for inmate safety and security,” Bobb said.
The county Board of Supervisors ordered the report after inmates killed five fellow inmates in county jails between October 2003 and April 2004. Two supervisors have asked Sheriff Lee Baca whether he could move some inmates from the Men’s Central to more secure facilities. Bobb called for the massive lockup to be replaced with new, smaller jails – a move Baca called unrealistic, saying it would cost the financially strapped county nearly $1 billion. Baca acknowledged that the jail had security flaws and was understaffed but called an inmate takeover “highly unlikely.”