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Rude Treatment for Jail Visitors

December 14, 1986

On behalf of the visitors to the Los Angeles County Jail, I wish to call attention to the outrageous lack of accommodations, poor visiting procedures, unreasonable delays, and inadequate personnel who habitually treat a polite, cooperative group of visitors with rudeness and contempt. In fact, the attendants act like the visitors (parents and grandparents, wives and small children) are criminals deserving punishment instead of caring people who want to bring a few moments of happiness to the lonely men they love.

Recently I arrived at the Hall of Justice at 4:45 p.m. to obtain a visitor's pass. I was assigned a number for admittance, then joined several hundred people standing outside the building. Posted visiting hours were 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. but the first numbers were not called until 6:20 p.m. A guard opened the door and ordered the crowd to make an aisle for passage, but there was no room to move aside. He threatened to send everyone home unless the aisle was opened, and finally started calling three numbers at a time, personally escorting each person inside where they stood in line to have their passes checked. I noticed that his vocal chords functioned quite well when he was bullying the visitors, but when he called numbers his voice could scarcely be heard. When people pushed closer in a desperate effort to hear, he snarled at them to move back.

Why wasn't the aisle roped off? Why wasn't a loud speaker system used?

Why weren't at least two men available, one to call numbers, the other to take people inside?

At 8:15 p.m. after standing nearly four hours in very chilly weather my number was called. I was one of the lucky ones. Over half of the visitors were still standing, many carrying babies, many elderly, some disabled. Undoubtedly many were turned away disappointed when visiting hours ended at 9 p.m.

The Los Angeles County jail is a dreadful, overcrowded, dangerous place. Having a loved one incarcerated there is a source of terrible anguish. Must the despair of wives, mothers, children and friends be intensified by such a deplorable visiting system and inconsiderate treatment from mean-spirited personnel? Only one employee spoke a kind word: an attractive woman who operated the elevator. She had a lovely smile and friendly manner. Could she be cloned?

Can't something be done?



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