Recent detainees at Los Angeles County's Men's Central Jail tell horror stories.

A real estate broker from Maryland says he watched helplessly while gang members beat a senior citizen. An Orange County college professor says he was denied diabetes medication and forced to stand in a room where rotting trash lay four inches thick on the floor.

These and many other reports are the basis for a lawsuit by the ACLU of Southern California that asks a federal judge to find the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in contempt for failing to improve overcrowded conditions at the Men's Central Jail.

In a 10-page ruling issued in Oct. 2006, U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the county from holding more that 20 inmates for more than 24 hours in small holding cells in it's inmate reception center, located at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.

But as testimonials gathered by the ACLU/SC have revealed, brutality and inhumane living conditions remain the norm and may have even gotten worse.

"Men's Central Jail has become Los Angeles County's version of Devil's Island, a hellhole where detainees convicted of no criminal offenses and frequently charged with non-violent offenses such as traffic violations are subjected to sleep deprivation for want of beds, insufficient feedings and wholesale lack of appropriate physical and mental health care," said Mark Rosenbaum, ACLU/SC legal director. "In some cases, detainees have been hooded and chained to benches. These practices fail minimal standards of human decency."

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