The first concern at the ACLU of Southern California is the safety of inmates and sheriff's deputies in the Los Angeles County jails. For years we have been monitoring the jails and lobbying for improved conditions in the seven facilities throughout the county. And, for years we have been advocating the County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Lee Baca and his department for increased staffing, better access to medical care for inmates, improved conditions for everyone inside the jail and an end to the overcrowding that plagues the jails.

We understand during an emergency, such as a violent outbreak in any one of the county facilities, all measures to keep inmates and deputies safe must be taken. This can include separating inmates along racial lines. Though separating inmates along racial lines is neither a long nor a short-term solution to the problems in the jails, it can help to prevent additional violence.

The riots that broke out at the jail in Castaic could have been avoided. In countless on the record conversations and testimonies in front and with the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff Department, the ACLU has warned that if serious measures are not taken to address staffing, overcrowding and rising tensions in the jail violence will occur. Until the county is serious about improving conditions in the jail, this will not be the first or the last violent outbreak.