A grand jury transcript describes an Orange County, Ca., jail in disarray, with deputies watching television, playing video games and taking naps while inmates were allowed to use brutality and intimidation to keep order in the cellblocks, reports the Los Angeles Times. The conclusions are in 7,000 pages of transcripts from a special criminal grand jury impaneled by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to investigate an inmate death in 2006.
The Sheriff’s Department tried to keep the grand jury’s evidence secret. The Times and the Orange County Register went to court to have the transcripts made public. They show that then-Sheriff Michael S. Carona exercised his 5th Amendment rights rather than answer the panel’s questions. The grand jury found that while one of the ranking guards at the jail exchanged personal cellphone text messages and watched the television show “Cops,” a 41-year-old computer technician was stomped and beaten to death not far from the glass-walled guard station. Though the pummeling lasted up to 50 minutes, guards said they were unaware of it until it was over. While jail logs said guards checked the cellblock where the beating occurred every 30 minutes, the grand jury concluded that the area had not been checked for five hours.