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Sandra Hernandez, 213.977.5247,
Tony Marcano, 213.977.5242,

July 18, 2016

Please attribute the following statement on former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca's case to Hector O. Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal):

Today, a federal court judge rejected a plea agreement for former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on the grounds that a six-month sentence would “trivialize the seriousness of the offenses.” The court was right to publicly emphasize the systemic nature of the longstanding culture of abuse in the county jails.

For years, Baca and other top sheriff’s officials – most notably former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in the scandal – abdicated their responsibilities as public servants by looking the other way while deputies attacked jail inmates and visitors, and by actively obstructing a federal investigation into the ongoing abuse. The statements made today by U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson properly affirm the severity of these crimes, which suggested many in the sheriff’s department, including its leader, believed themselves to be above the law.