LA County sheriff considers closing Men's Central Jail wing

Sheriff Lee Baca and Men's Central

Grant Slater/KPCC

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca conducts an inspection of Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles in this photo from December 2011.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is considering closing one wing of the downtown Men’s Central Jail.

Sheriff’s Spokesman Steve Whitmore said the possible closure has nothing to do with an FBI investigation into allegations deputies are abusing inmates.

“The discussion going on now is pretty much the discussion that’s been going on for years," Whitmore said.

At the same time, Whitmore said those discussions are moving forward now, and that the sheriff may soon present a plan to move some inmates to a jail in Lynwood that now houses women. It’s unclear where the women would go.

Lynwood is a more modern facility with cells situated around one guard room, unlike the 50-year-old Men’s Central Jail.

“It’s rows of cells that are next to each other," Whitmore says, "so when deputies do checks, they have to walk down the row to look into each of the cells." Blind spots can leave both deputies and inmates more vulnerable.

Baca Has blamed some of the problems at Men’s Central on its age.

The sheriff must also consider the effects of prison realignment. California is shifting responsibility for thousands of less serious criminals to counties. L.A. County jails is expected to see san increase of several thousand more inmates before the year is out.

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