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Men's Central Jail on lockdown to prevent racial brawl

Facility has been the site of nine inmate homicides between 2000 and 2007.

December 15, 2009|By Richard Winton

The Men's Central Jail has been on lockdown since Friday evening after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department learned that inmates were plotting violence.

Sheriff's officials said they placed the downtown jail -- known for holding the most dangerous inmates -- on lockdown after discovering that some prisoners were planning a racial brawl.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the facility was locked down to visitors and inmate movement until Monday morning and that now those restrictions were being eased.

Violence between black and Latino inmates has been a problem at the jail.

Since it opened just east of downtown Los Angeles 44 years ago, the Men's Central Jail has been the scene of many of the jail system's most disturbing incidents, including nine inmate homicides between 2000 and 2007. In 2004, an inmate roamed the jail unsupervised for hours before tracking down and killing an inmate who had testified against him.

Months after that killing, Merrick Bobb, the county's special counsel, wrote a report that described the jail as "nightmarish to manage" and suggested the department close it.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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