As Los Angeles County jail administrators have struggled with a staff shortage and funding crisis, inmate violence has nearly doubled in three years at the North County Correctional Facility, where a weekend riot left one inmate dead and dozens injured, reports the Los Angeles Times. Inmate-on-inmate assaults rose from 351 in 2003 to 614 last year. Most of the incidents were racially motivated, including Saturday’s riot by more than 2,000 black and Latino inmates. Violence broke out again late yesterday at an adjacent jail.
Investigators are trying to learn why a convicted sex offender who was beaten to death in the earlier riot was housed among violent gang members. The riots “may reflect that the Sheriff’s Department simply does not have the personnel to adequately staff the jails,” said Merrick Bobb, a lawyer hired by the Board of Supervisors to monitor the Sheriff’s Department. “Too few deputies are being called upon to do too much,” said Bobb, who called the ratio of deputies to prisoners “impossibly high.” On a typical Saturday night, 77 deputies watch 4,000 prisoners at the North County facility.