Reacting to last weekend's jail disturbance in which 37 people were injured, all five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered remedies on Tuesday for jail overcrowding, ranging from judges working overtime to building new jail facilities, in an effort to stave off future clashes.
The list of proposed solutions--many of them repetitions of past ideas--came on the heels of Sheriff Sherman Block's statements Monday that overcrowding was partly to blame for Sunday's violent confrontation between inmates and deputies at the Central Jail. In the melee, 12 deputies and 25 prisoners, mostly gang members, were injured, none seriously.
Board Chairman Ed Edelman led the charge, offering nine of the 18 proposals, most of which were aimed at reducing inmate population through expansion of early release programs for nonviolent prisoners.
One by one, Edelman's four colleagues on the board joined in, arguing that Edelman did not go far enough and suggesting other ideas. In a fast-moving process that left even some board officials confused, nine amendments to Edelman's original motion were incorporated into the final action.
Supervisor Deane Dana said additional state and federal money should be sought for new jail construction. Supervisor Mike Antonovich called for the use of night courts.
Another suggested remedy was that judges throughout Los Angeles County be asked to work at least one hour more a day to ease the backlog of cases.
The supervisors stopped short of ordering a reduction in the jail's population. Instead, they directed their proposals to various county agencies, asking them to study the ideas to determine their feasibility.
Supervisor Pete Schabarum blamed much of the jail overcrowding on the number of criminal defendants awaiting trial or sentencing. Schabarum also praised the Sheriff's Department for dealing with the confrontation without any serious injuries.
"We are very lucky no one was killed," Schabarum said.