ACLU calls on LA County to address 'horrific' jail conditions

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today called on Los Angeles County to close its downtown jail. Margaret Winter of the ACLU’s National Prison Project said the jail is “grossly overcrowded.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today called on Los Angeles County to close its downtown jail. Margaret Winter of the ACLU’s National Prison Project said the jail is “grossly overcrowded.”

Margaret Winter: “Many thousands of men – thousands of them suffering from serious mental illness – are packed like sardines in dungeon-like barracks or they’re hidden away in solitary confinement in coffin-like cells for days, months, or even years in some cases.”

Winter said the conditions contribute to serious mental illness among inmates. She pointed to the suicide of a 22-year-old man last month. A spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca said Baca has reduced the number of inmates in the last three years, and has increased supervision at the jail.

The ACLU argues that those actions have resulted in “glacial” progress toward solving the problems.

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