Panel studying abuse in L.A. County jails to issue final report

A county commission created to examine allegations of abuse in Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department jails said it would release its findings Friday, including 63 recommendations on how to fix problems with management, deputy culture and other issues.

For months, the commission and its investigators have heard from former and current sheriff’s officials and reviewed internal department documents. Earlier this month, the panel’s investigators used that evidence to issue a searing critique of Sheriff Lee Baca and his top assistants, accusing them of fostering a culture in which deputies were permitted to beat and humiliate inmates, cover up misconduct and form aggressive deputy cliques in the L.A. County jails.

Baca, an elected official ultimately accountable only to voters, cannot be forced to implement the commission’s recommendations. He has said he supports the commission’s work and will take its ideas seriously, but he has refused to commit to implementing all of its recommendations without first seeing them.

The panel was formed by the Board of Supervisors in October after The Times reported that the FBI was investigating allegations of abuse and other deputy misconduct. Federal authorities appear to be expanding that investigation. Last month, a federal grand jury demanded that sheriff’s officials turn over all correspondence they have had with the county jail commission.

On Tuesday, a memo went out internally in the Sheriff’s Department informing personnel that their colleagues are being served with subpoenas, sometimes “away from their work site,” and that the requests to appear before the federal grand jury are expected to continue.

It’s unclear what will result from the federal probe, but top sheriff’s officials have already been hit hard by the county’s investigation. The commission’s investigators described Baca as an out-of-touch boss. His second-in-command, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, has also been alleged to have helped promote the corrosive culture that contributed to many of the jails’ woes.

The release of the commission’s final report Friday will include more than 77 findings — along with recommendations on jail management, culture, personnel and training, oversight, discipline and accountability, according to a news release from the commission.