In their first important article about the LASD in a while, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Department–nearly four years into Sheriff McDonnell’s term–has failed to meet any of 41 requirements in complying with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. This news coming just a few months after news that a deputy sheriff at the Century Regional Detention Facility sexually assaulted numerous female inmates.
The law took effect in 2003 and mandated basic safeguards to curb sexual assault behind bars. As the Times reports, at least 400 county jails in the U.S., including 20 in California, comply with the law. The nation’s largest jail system comes nowhere remotely close.
“It’s a bit shocking to see that they didn’t pass anything,” Patti Giggans, a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, told the Times.
“Although the oversight commission can make recommendations and issue reports, it has no power to force Sheriff Jim McDonnell to take action,” the Times reported.
“The women’s jail fell short of some standards because the department withheld documents,” auditors told the Times. This is noteworthy given McDonnell’s aggressive lack of transparency, including about deputy involved shootings, and manipulation of crime stats since he was elected on a transparency platform four yers ago.
Obviously, it’s not that Sheriff McDonnell wants prisoners to be raped or assaulted. It’s that although he’s sometimes a nice guy, he’s an ineffective leader (who nobody but the suck-ups immediately around him is following) and that he’s an incompetent manager. It’s that when you make a list of what he’s actually gotten accomplished in the last four years, it’s hard to come up with much beyond belt buckles, stickers, hurting a lot of good people, increasing crime, and spending the tax dollars he could have used to comply with this federal law on a luxury SUV and chauffeurs to drive it.
Sheriff McDonnell doesn’t want these inmates to be victimized. It’s that, as the headlines show, he’s simply not up to the task of doing much about it or leading the LASD more generally. He’s in over his head, he has been for a long time, and we need to get someone else in there.
To see the full report the Times article is based on, click here.