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Supervisors approve jail oversight committee

October 18, 2011 |  3:13 pm

Men's Central Jail

Los Angeles County supervisors unanimously approved two proposals Tuesday intended to provide more oversight of the troubled jail system, including establishing an outside oversight committee.

The move comes after several weeks of reports in The Times and other organizations detailing alleged abuses in the jails and also follow an FBI investigation into potential misconduct.

“There has been a shattering of public confidence,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

Full coverage: Jails under scrutiny

The votes could be a blow to Sheriff Lee Baca, who initially decried the FBI investigation on legal grounds but has since conceded that he has done a poor job of overseeing the nation’s largest prison system. Baca was not present at the meeting.

One of the plans, backed by Supervisor Gloria Molina, called for implementing recommendations made earlier by an outside monitor, including installing surveillance cameras, eliminating the use of heavy flashlights and steel-toed shoes, and banning deputies from striking inmates in the head.

Representatives from the sheriff's deputies union expressed concern about the ban on heavy flashlights and the use of cameras, saying they could endanger deputies or be expensive and unnecessary.

Supervisors ordered a report about the union leader’s concerns.

The other plan, backed by Yaroslavsky and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, establishes a commission to conduct an independent review of the complaints and “restore public confidence” by recommending potential solutions. The committee members would be appointed by supervisors by Nov. 1 and report back within 120 days.

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Full coverage: Jails under scrutiny

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-- Jason Song at the Hall of Administration

Photo: Men's Central Jail. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

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