At the Los Angeles County Jail, where five inmates have been killed in seven months, news reporters were allowed to see the locations where victims were shanked, strangled, and bashed to death, writes Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. The highlight was the module where one inmate wandered down from another floor and killed a chap he was supposed to be separated from.
Inmates were available to talk about how they get tanked on jailhouse sangria called “pruno,” which they brew with fruit and other items picked off of their meal trays. At one location, two inmates managed to get their hands on a 16-pound sledgehammer and a TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol that were used in separate escape attempts?
Lopez said that Sheriff Lee Baca allowed the media wanted us to see what a daunting task he has and win our support for more money from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, as well as a half-cent sales tax increase he’s backing.
Call me a skeptic, Lopez wrote, “but when you show me a sledgehammer, bolt cutters, a car jack, and an automatic pistol that were hoisted up to a jail window from an outside parking lot by inmates, my instinct is not to write a bigger check to Wile E. Coyote.”
Baca has admitted some of his own policies were violated in at least one killing. If an inmate can wander through the jail at will and kill someone despite a court-ordered separation order, is it because of budget shortages or because someone’s asleep at the wheel? Lopez asked.
Inmates are packed four to a cell and, with all the howling and cage-rattling we were treated to…it’s a minor miracle someone doesn’t get shanked in this dungeon every night of the week, said Lopez. The jail population exceeds 17,000