For months, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has been under mounting pressure to address abuse and misconduct in the jails he oversees. Faced with news reports and the recommendations of a special commission, he pledged to institute reforms and fix the problems that have occurred on his watch, and yet his actions remain halting and inconclusive.
Last week, there was some movement. Baca submitted Terri McDonald's name to the county Board of Supervisors as his choice to serve as the new assistant sheriff for the custody division. If appointed, McDonald, who is currently the under- secretary of rehabilitation at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, will have the most important role in determining whether real and meaningful changes are made in the jails, or whether it is business as usual. In order to demonstrate a commitment to progress, over the next three months, she should:
Finish installing cameras in all the jails and make sure they are fully functioning. This will serve to deter unnecessary use of force by deputies and assist in the investigation of such incidents.
Upgrade the computerized system used to track inmate complaints against deputies as well use-of-force incidents. The Los Angeles Police Department, after much foot-dragging, modernized its system and now monitors its officers more effectively and comprehensively.