Bowing to mounting pressure to fix the largest U.S. jail system, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca agreed to sweeping reforms to improve the management and oversight of his agency amid allegations of deputy brutality against inmates, the Los Angeles Times reports. A key recommendation accepted by Baca would create an independent inspector general’s office with the authority to scrutinize Baca’s agency. The move would significantly strengthen civilian monitoring by giving the outside body the power to conduct investigations inside jails and elsewhere in the department.
Baca’s move comes after a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the county Board of Supervisors blamed him for problems of excessive force in the county’s lockups, which house about 19,000 inmates. The panel said Baca did not heed repeated warnings about brutality and other problems and did not pay attention to his jails. Baca had resisted committing to the commission’s recommendations before they became public last week, but said Wednesday he planned to implement them all. “I couldn’t have written them better myself. [ ] We will be a stronger and safer jail,” Baca said at a news conference on the third floor of Men’s Central Jail, the site of many of the most troubling allegations, including beatings and the formation of an aggressive gang-like deputy clique. “I do have some deputies who have done some terrible things,” Baca said. “You can’t judge the whole by the few.”