Is L.A. County Jail Worse Than Iraqi Prison?


Inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are lucky they weren’t locked up in the Los Angeles County Jail, writes Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. Five inmates have been murdered in downtown L.A. detention facilities since October. An accused murderer managed to leave his cell and wander around like he owned the place, says Lopez. In a sixth case at County Jail, a former Nazi Low Rider survived a razor attack that left him with seriously injured. “I’m a big guy, I’m a bad guy. I was scared for my life.” You know things are out of hand when a Nazi Low Rider is trembling.

Whether the murder and mayhem are the result of lousy leadership by Sheriff Lee Baca or the effect of severe budget cuts, is open to debate.

Lopez calls it a little of both.

Baca should spend less time campaigning for a half-cent sales tax increase and slot machines to fund law enforcement and more time running a jail operation that would embarrass even Donald Rumsfeld, Lopez says. Ackknowledging tht he sheriff must baby-sit unruly gangs of suspected killers, dope fiends, and illegal immigrants, Lopez says, “If we keep electing politicians on promises we’ll never pay a nickel more in taxes, and the feds keep stiffing the state, and the state keeps stiffing the counties and cities, we can’t expect great schools and tidy jails.”


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