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Today: When Jail Makes Prison Look Good

Today: When Jail Makes Prison Look Good
An inmate peeks through the bars at the restrictive housing unit, also known as solitary confinement, at the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

California’s justice reforms have reduced the state prison population, but many county jails are struggling with more mentally ill inmates and violence.

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When Jail Makes Prison Look Good

Over the last eight years, more than 175,000 people in California have been sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons because of sweeping changes to the state’s justice system, according to an analysis by the Marshall Project. The reforms were intended to ease prison overcrowding — and they have. But many jails that are not fully equipped to handle long-term inmates with chronic medical and mental health problems and histories of violence have paid a price. Some inmates even beg to be sent to prison instead of jail.

1st Amendment Questions

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, faces 17 additional U.S. criminal charges alleging that he unlawfully obtained and disclosed national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act. Given that news organizations routinely encourage sources to provide them with highly sensitive information, the indictment (read it here) raises some profound 1st Amendment questions. It also comes amid a growing Trump administration effort to crack down on government officials who provide information to reporters — and President Trump’s frequent attacks on “fake news” organizations as the “enemy of the people.”

Trade War Troubles

More than a year ago, Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” So far, the economic conflict between the U.S. and China hasn’t been looking that way for either side. It’s pushing some foreign manufacturers to move factories out of China — not to the United States, despite Trump’s insistence that tariffs will bring back U.S. factory jobs, but to Southeast Asia. Trump’s blacklisting of Huawei could also have wider consequences on American businesses’ supply chain. Meanwhile, Chinese media coverage of the trade war has turned sharply nationalistic.

More Politics

-- The Pentagon is asking the White House to send several thousand more troops, Patriot anti-missile batteries and warplanes to the Middle East to boost U.S. defenses against Iranian threats, a senior U.S. official said.

-- Congressional leaders have reached agreement on a $19.1-billion package to help states recover from natural disasters, including the California wildfires. It came after the White House agreed to give up on its demand for $4.5 billion in humanitarian border aid to be included.

-- Trump is leaving today for his second trip to Japan — with a return visit planned next month. The three-day visit will feature several firsts, including the first meeting between newly crowned Emperor Naruhito and a foreign leader, and the first appearance by a U.S. president at a sumo match as part of a state visit.

May Showers, September Fires?

The good news this May: After years of drought, California has been getting plenty of rain, and even snow. The bad news: All this extra moisture is likely to worsen the outlook for wildfires, because the rain will help brush grow even more. Particularly vexing is the bloom of yellow flowers called black mustard, which will dry out over summer and become hazardous.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

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Gene Scott was a shaggy-haired, cigar-smoking televangelist in Glendale whose eccentric religious broadcasts were beamed around the world. At times, he was a seemingly unstoppable force. But on this date in 1983, his station KHOF-TV Channel 30 went dark in a dispute with the Federal Communications Commission, which was investigating allegations of financial mismanagement. As a Times article the next day reported, “the shutdown came only after the preacher, angry and defiant as ever, had ceremoniously beaten the heads of dozens of toy monkeys that served as his sort of voodoo dolls for bureaucrats.”

May 24, 1983: Television preacher Gene Scott on his set at KHOF-TV Channel 30. The FCC forced Scott to shut down his television station.
May 24, 1983: Television preacher Gene Scott on his set at KHOF-TV Channel 30. The FCC forced Scott to shut down his television station. (Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

-- Secret USC records released Thursday show that the university received a report from a group of medical experts saying there was evidence its longtime campus gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, was preying on vulnerable Asian students and had signs of “psychopathy.”

-- Inglewood spent millions of dollars in public funds to soundproof middle-class areas of the city from the roar of planes descending into LAX. But a Times analysis found it bypassed one of the poorest neighborhoods where the sound is the loudest.

-- Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has reached a tentative $44-million settlement with women who have accused him of sexual assault as well as creditors of his former studio, according to two sources.

-- A 102-year-old woman is being evicted after nearly 30 years in her Ladera Heights home so the landlord’s daughter can move in instead, according to an eviction notice the woman received.

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YOUR WEEKEND

-- Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Here are a few things to do in Southern California along with seven party recipes from L.A. chefs and restaurants.

-- Everything you need to know about taco trucks, from barbacoa to bebidas.

-- Thinking about a road trip? We have a carload of suggestions.

-- Treadmill classes are calling: Bring on the sweat, rain or shine.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The new “Aladdin” redefines a Disney princess with actress Naomi Scott’s take on Jasmine.

-- Henry Rollins explores director John Waters’ new collection of essays, “Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.”

-- The little-told history of the Jordan Downs housing project in Watts is being embraced as immersive theater.

NATION-WORLD

-- Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday she will resign as her party’s leader on June 7, clearing the path for a new prime minister.

-- What Arizona’s new book ban tells us about the state's criminal justice system.

-- In a victory for gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Brazil's top court indicated that it would outlaw discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

-- Botswana has lifted its ban on elephant hunting. It has the world’s highest number of the animals.

BUSINESS

-- Endeavor, the Hollywood talent agency and media behemoth, is officially going public, as a battle between talent agencies and writers continues.

-- In a policy switch, Spectrum and AT&T say if you cancel early, they’re keeping your cash.

SPORTS

-- As the WNBA gets set to start its 23rd season, there are collective bargaining issues, but the league also has a new boss and a plan to stand alone.

-- The lengthy domestic abuse case of former L.A. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov ended when the hockey team cut ties with him after his season-long suspension was cut in half by an independent arbitrator.

OPINION

-- How typical of the Trump administration to put the Harriet Tubman $20 bill on hold. After all, it came out of the Obama administration.

-- The best way to keep abortion legal: Women should talk openly about having abortions.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Trump has given Atty. Gen. William Barr sweeping power to declassify intelligence records in a review of how his 2016 presidential campaign was investigated. (New York Times)

-- Twitter has permanently banned anti-Trump brothers Brian and Ed Krassenstein, alleging they had broken the site’s rules about operating fake accounts and purchasing fake interactions with their accounts. (Daily Beast)

-- How do you move a 320-year-old house from Japan across the Pacific Ocean to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens? (Atlas Obscura)

ONLY IN L.A.

She’s a champion swimmer who didn’t learn to put her face in the water until she reached retirement age. She’s a world record holder, but has only the vaguest notion of her fastest times. At 97, Maurine Kornfeld from the Hollywood Hills — aka “Mighty Mo” — is the oldest active member of the 64,000-member U.S. Masters Swimming. She holds 16 age-group world records, 26 U.S. bests and dozens of national championship titles. And poolside in Pasadena, she holds court.

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