Los Angeles County Agrees to Reform Jails, With Judge Watching

By Julianne Hing Dec 16, 2014

On Tuesday, Los Angeles county officials formally agreed to a list of reforms (PDF) to clean up its violent jail system, LA’s KPCC reported. The reforms, part of a consent decree which will be overseen by a federal judge, stem from a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in 2012 over what the ACLU called a culture of wanton, brutal deputy-on-inmate violence.

Under the 15-page agreement, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies will have to undergo new use-of-force training for a new, more stringent use-of-force policy. For instance, if an inmate stops resisting during an exchange, a deputy must "de-escalate" their own use of force, KPCC reports. Sheriff’s deputies will also no longer be allowed to verbally provoke inmates as a pretext to use force against them under the reforms.

In addition to the updated use-of-force policies, the county will also place more cameras inside its jails and expand options for inmates to file grievances. The new inmate grievance form, for instance, must now include a box for "use of force" as a category for complaints against staff members. The consent decree also bars deputies from retaliating against inmates. 

The consent decree comes one week after the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a civilian oversight commission for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which runs the county jail system.