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County Orders Expansion of Court Holding Area

April 02, 1987

The County Board of Supervisors this week declared an emergency situation in the lockup area at the West Los Angeles Municipal Court and authorized work to begin immediately on expansion of the overcrowded facility.

On a motion by Supervisor Deane Dana, the board Tuesday voted 3 to 0 to expand a holding area that was constructed in the 1960s for 40 prisoners but is often jammed with more than 100 people awaiting court appearances or transportation back to county jails.

In addition, prisoners are ushered through a common hallway shared by judges, attorneys and court employees, Dana said.

"The design is similar to that of the Santa Monica Courthouse which was the scene of a death . . . as the result of an escape attempt," he told the board.

In that incident in May, 1985, an inmate was shot to death by a sheriff's deputy when he and three other inmates attacked a bailiff during an escape attempt. Court and law enforcement personnel blamed the attempt on the layout of the building, which allows prisoners to move through public hallways and parking lots.

Dennis Morefield, a spokesman for Dana, said the supervisor made the motion after receiving a report from the county Sheriff's Department that concurred with the supervisors' concerns over crowded conditions and recommended expansion of the lockup.

The emergency provisions approved by the board direct the county Facilities Management Department to begin the construction as soon as possible. Morefield said the cost of the work was not immediately known.

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