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California Briefing / Los Angeles County

ACLU asks judge to bar closure of Castaic jail

July 14, 2009|Richard Winton

The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday asked a federal judge to bar the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department from closing a 1,600-bed jail near Castaic Lake.

Sheriff Lee Baca recently proposed closing the North Facility at Pitchess Detention Center starting Sept. 1 to deal with a $25-million cut in the department's budget.

In a federal court filing, the civil rights organization called for Baca to consider shuttering the dilapidated Men's Central Jail downtown instead of the more modern jail in north L.A. County.

Melinda Bird, senior counsel for the ACLU of Southern California, says the department's failure to adequately plan for closures in the past has led to riots and caused severe overcrowding at the inmate reception center.

The ACLU's filing requests a preliminary injunction and asks the judge to require the department to prepare a report on how the closure would affect conditions in the county's remaining jail facilities.

-- Richard Winton

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