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Reminded of Pig Ranch, Judge Says, Orders Cut in County Jail

October 30, 1987|From Associated Press

A federal judge today gave Los Angeles County until Jan. 1 to get 1,200 people out of jail.

U.S. District Judge William P. Gray told county officials that the jail once reminded him of his "uncle's pig ranch in Lancaster." He then issued the ultimatum to reduce the population from 8,000 to 6,800.

Gray also ordered county officials to submit a plan by Nov. 20 to improve conditions under which prisoners are taken to and from court.

While signing the order over the objections of county attorneys, Gray recalled a 1979 visit to the county lockup prompted by a lawsuit that initiated jail improvement efforts.

"The holding cells reminded me . . . of the Chicago stockyards or my uncle's pig ranch in Lancaster," Gray said.

Gray said the population count at the jail had crept back up to "unconstitutional" levels since the lawsuit was heard. He said he had tried "to be accommodating and, in effect, have blinked at my obligations for as long as I can."

Fred Bennett, an assistant county attorney, said complying with the order may be difficult.

"We're not sure how we'll do it. If we had to do it now, there would be chaos," Bennett said.

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