I get the sense that Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka trivialize the problems in their department and especially at the county’s jails. With their attitudes, I have graves doubts that under their leadership the department will change no matter how many recommendations they receive.
One area that should be scrutinized is the department’s hiring and retention of problem deputies.
If you have deputies who lie about small incidents, can we trust those deputies to tell the truth about incidents of major misconduct? Can the public trust their testimonies to the jail abuse panel?
The department must show no tolerance for misconduct by deputies. It’s painfully obvious that suspensions and mentoring are not the answer. Of the more than 100,000 L.A. County employees, sheriff’s deputies should be held to the highest standards.
Denise J. Ryan
Thankfully, this darkness is being brought to light by The Times. But Baca is responsible for plenty of good in the jails.
Baca formed the Education Based Incarceration Bureau, which is dedicated to reducing recidivism through inmate education. As a teacher providing high school education to inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center, I play a small part in a very positive change within our jails.
The department’s MERIT program teaches life skills such as anger management and parenting. Inmates are given both academic and emotional support as they prepare to rejoin society.
Reform is needed. However, the process of improving inmates’ chances of success outside jail is already taking place.