Please attribute the following statement to Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.
This conviction is not about one individual, or an isolated incident of obstruction of justice by a law enforcement official. Rather, it is about a culture of lawlessness and violence within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that went unchecked if not abetted by the top brass.
ACLU SoCal repeatedly tried to alert the sheriff’s department and other public officials about the serious and chronic abuses taking place in the nation’s largest jail system. But many elected officials chose to ignore the numerous reports of eyewitness accounts of deputy violence against inmates provided to them.
Today is one more important step in the process of effecting much needed reform, a process that includes federal prosecutions, the resolution of the Rosas lawsuit, and implementation of the reforms proposed by the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence. This conviction of Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and the plea by former Sheriff Lee Baca are important reminders that no one is above the law and those individuals entrusted to uphold the law must also obey it.
Sandra Hernandez, 213.977.5242,