Facing an FBI investigation into brutality in his jails, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has committed to shuttering much of his most problematic lockup, Men’s Central Jail, barring some unexpected hike in violent crime, reports the Los Angeles Times. In the past, Baca has tied the idea of shutting down the troubled downtown Los Angeles facility to the county’s agreeing to pay for an expensive new jail.
The Times has reported that Baca was open to shutting down the old section of Men’s Central Jail — the epicenter of violent clashes between deputies and inmates — even without that new jail. Baca rejected the idea that he was making the shift because of the intensified scrutiny in recent months of abuse inside his jails. “Bear with me if it sounds like I’m changing my tune [ ] investigations and allegations are not bases for rational management decisions,” Baca said. “We’re not talking here about all of a sudden we’ve been put in a corner.” Baca said his new outlook was spurred by an American Civil Liberties Union report that found Los Angeles County’s jail population could be reduced by, among other measures, increasing the number of inmates who are released back to the public and monitored electronically.