September 12, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauds the proposal by County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina to create a permanent citizens’ oversight commission for L.A.’s troubled sheriff’s department.
The commission would bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the department, which has a decades-long history of deputy-on-inmate violence and mistreatment of inmates with mental illness.
“It is long past time that the sheriff’s department receives close, independent scrutiny,” said ACLU SoCal Legal Director Peter Eliasberg. “The scope of reform that is necessary will not come without it. This commission would simply make oversight of the sheriff’s department similar to that of the Los Angeles Police Department.”
The LAPD has long had a civilian oversight commission.
In 2012, the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence found that gangs of sheriff’s deputies have used excessive force on Los Angeles County jail inmates for years. Overcrowding has plagued the facilities. The jails are far from the department’s only problem.
The United States Department of Justice recently concluded that deputies on patrol have used excessive force against Antelope Valley residents and engaged in a pattern of racially discriminatory policing and investigation. “The sheriff’s department has made improvements in the jails in the last year. But given the history of violence in L.A.’s jails, and given deputies’ use of racially discriminatory policing and excessive force while on patrol in the Antelope Valley, a citizens’ commission is essential,” Mr. Eliasberg said.
“We support the supervisors’ call for a plan to provide funding and staff to the commission and hope that the group has the power to conduct its own investigations, like the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, which spurred important changes in the jails.”
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the proposal Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Media Availability with Peter Eliasberg, ACLU SoCal Legal Director, Thursday, Sept. 12 from 4pm to 5:30pm and on Friday, Sept. 13 from 11:30AM to 1:00PM
Media Contact: Vicki Fox or Marcus Benigno, 213.977.5252