Archive for the ‘Men’s Central Jail’ Category

Brass Tacky

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

This week, former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca was convicted of obstructing an FBI corruption investigation of the jails he oversaw. But despite having once been a part of his fundraising machine, all I can think about is the Department’s new belt buckles.

I can go two ways here: ask what the hell these guys are thinking spending $300,000 on new belt buckles to give their uniforms more shock and awe, or write off new-guy Jim McDonnell as meddling and distracted.

Isn’t this the controlling, big spender schtick that the newly formed, McDonnell-supported Civilian Oversight Commission is supposed to question?  (more…)

Apocalypse Hoosegow 9

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Apocalypse-Hoosegow__9__Where-Excuses-Go-to-DieA newly-appointed federal monitor will now oversee the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail and the wider LA jail system. Finally, movie nights –and maybe even civil rights– are back.

Changes are afoot, and prisoners housed at 441 Bauchet St., LA’s notorious Men’s Central Jail, may soon be eligible for social skill-strengthening activities and other privileges that have been forbidden since…who knows? 1965? The year after the facility opened? Well, decades, at least.

And that makes me wonder:

  • Might newly elected Sheriff Jim McDonnell do away with the Fight Club free-for-all day rooms, with their non-running water, MCJ 3000 Floor Day Room_Where Excuses Go to Diebacked up toilets, and rodent infestations?
  • Will rampant abuse and neglect in this, the nation’s “largest care-taking facility” for the mentally ill, finally start to slow?
  • Will the Sheriff’s Deputies and civilian jailers stop tossing decks of cards through the bars as a substitute for rehabilitation?
  • Or will those same individuals continue to celebrate excessive force and use it with enthusiastic prejudice?
  • Will the screams of men being sexually assaulted at MCJ no longer stomp bootprints of bad memories into the heads of those fortunate enough to only be plugging their ears?
  • Will Badges finally start assigning chores or handing out mops and brooms to inmates other than those willing do “torpedo runs” and other scheming favors?
  • Will visitors to the facility at last see an end to beat downs while handcuffed to a bench?

(more…)

LA County Sheriff’s “CRRC”

Monday, May 26th, 2014

And it begins – the rehabilitation of the LA Sheriff’s Department…

LA County Sheriffs Department calls for a Do-overInterim LA County Sheriff John Scott’s news conference last week announced the opening of the Sheriff’s Department’s Community Reentry and Resource Center (CRRC). It’s a new component of the department’s  Education Based Incarceration/Merit Program. 

As he has several times before, Scott stood in contrast to the Department’s typically defensive posture, indifference toward matters of prisoner reentry, and former Sheriff Lee Baca’s endless insistence that only more money can resolve overcrowding and the problems faced in running the nation’s largest jail.

In terms of my love-hate relationship with the LASD, some of these men are cops this former criminal happens to be rooting for. I’ll set aside my cynicism and suspicions to appreciate Scott’s effort to repair the damages wrought by corrupt, Nazi-gang-affiliated, vengeful Department brass (and –as described by insiders– its cult-like following).

SO LONG LA Sheriffs Spokesman Steve WhitmoreIt’s no small thing that this first high profile attempt to reverse the Men’s Central Jail’s inhumane and festering image addresses the causes of recidivism rather than demonstrating a tougher resolve or blaming budget woes. Scott is clearly borrowing a page from the national dialog on prison reform, and yes, it’s a little Simpsons-esque to watch this particular department pitch their newfound forbearance to the public. But folks, this is how it’s gonna be for a while. Luckily, I’ve spoken with several respected officers in the department who have an impressive sense of humor about their profession and their beleaguered employer.

And what is the LA County Sheriff’s Community Reentry and Resource Center?

Through the CRRC, return-to-the-community services such as drug and alcohol treatment, job placement assistance, temporary shelter, tattoo removal, family reintegration, and mental health counseling will be made available to anyone emerging from the building that’s been making headlines as “one of the worst jails in America.” Its offices have been set up right across the street from the ‘ol dungeon itself (the one the county might either expand, tear down or, if there is a God, turn into a mall).

So what’s it like to walk out of Men’s Central Jail, anyway?

This might be difficult to imagine if you’ve never experienced it, so I’ll start by describing release from MCJ this way: it’s like being kicked out of your own failure, especially if you don’t have someone ready and waiting to get you out of the area. (more…)

The Mall at Men’s Central Jail

Monday, May 5th, 2014

The LA County Jail doesn’t need tearing down, it needs Rick Caruso.

LOCK DOWN SHOPPING TOWNThe Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail is an overcrowded dungeon, a house of horrors for pre-trial prisoners, the physically disabled, the mentally ill, and even jail visitors. An ongoing federal investigation into allegations of brutality at MCJ has exposed ghastly conditions, corruption, excessive force, free roaming retaliation, and secretive factions of Sheriff’s deputies and jailers.

In other words, give me a better location for a mixed-use mall and I’ll show you how to shake a set of handcuffs!

With the fate of Men’s Central uncertain, why not take a page from the old-timey tours and gift shops currently operated at Folsom and Alcatraz? Or from Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, fresh from its annual reunion of former guards and inmates? Even better, why not go upscale and consider something along the lines of Boston’s quaint Liberty Hotel, formerly known as the infamous Charles Street Jail? All are popular tourist attractions that generate big bucks, serve as walkable warnings to the wayward, and provide the public with glimpses into America’s penal history – and future.

WHITE WOMEN COME AND CHECK OUT THE PRISON PRICESToo soon for a custody-themed Cellblock Shopping Town? Too “insensitive” of an idea? What’s stopping us, bad taste? Ha! Prison ideation saturates media and advertising anyway, so why not give the secret “crimeshopper” in all of us a little fun?

Let’s go from jail rats to mall rats and rake in the tax revenue!

Why not plan a “Shopping Daycation” around a jail-themed Apple Store or J.Crew? Men’s Central will forever be remembered as O.J. Simpson’s courtroom hotel and where lady-puncher Chris Brown will spend his 25th birthday: why shouldn’t the city cash in? Yet turning a civil rights cesspool like LA’s Men’s Central Jail into one of SoCal’s hippest destinations for designer handbags and iPhones is the one idea no one has proposed.

Until now. Welcome to The Fashion Industrial Complex – the Mall at Men’s Central Jail. (more…)

Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Men's Central Jail_MILLION DOLLAR ROWIt’s hard not to mock Chris Brown’s stay at LA’s Men’s Central Jail

It’s also really hard not to mock Chris Brown.

To paraphrase a web commentator: No one suffers like Chris Brown, just ask Chris Brown.

But Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail reminds me of election campaign rallies where attendees are pre-screened for cross-eyed party loyalty regardless of candidate, and at the same time showcased to media as “a diverse array of everyday voters.” Or of how Dick Cheney used to make those surprise visits to Iraq: no way in hell was that man gonna subject himself to real Iraqis or suffering, but gosh those visits were all hearts and minds nonetheless, weren’t they? The parallel in Brown’s case is that the court never intended for him to see the particular Men’s Central Jail he’ll no doubt brag of surviving. I’ll get there.

First, since the LA-leg of the girl-punching celebrity inmate’s tour of custody is over, let’s consider a few of the realities he’s facing that he’s probably been able to sidestep so far. Number one having been diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder, as apparently Brown has. It’s no excuse for beating the crap out of a 90-pound woman – period. (more…)

L.A. Sheriff Baca Steps Down

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

You can’t run for reelection when you’ve been indicted by the Feds.

He was the most powerful elected official in Southern California.
His jail was compared to Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq.
He was called “deliberately indifferent” to civil rights abuses and corruption among his deputies.
He saw controversy and criticism as opportunities.
He compared his job to missionary work.
What a surprise.

3000_Baca_Photo by Grant Slater–KPCCI once came across what I thought was a dead or dying 50-something Asian man in the 3000 block of the Men’s Central Jail. He was lying with his head between an open cell’s steel toilet bowl and the concrete wall. This last cell in the row had been left open for those of us housed on the tier because of overcrowding. The old man was there for two days; others used the bowl around him and on him. Someone should’ve been told, but not an eyebrow had been raised by the other inmates, so I was afraid to speak up.

These units at MCJ are referred to as modules, and their ground floor walkways –still very much in use– have been dubbed “The Freeway.” That was just about the worst place an arrogant fuck-up like me could imagine, and I was there to stay. One afternoon, from outside that open cell, I heard someone yelling angrily because the man was in their way, and I was torn up in ways I’ve never felt. So I walked up to the module’s sally port cage door, got the attention of a Sheriff’s deputy, and told him the old guy needed to be dragged out of there. I got waved off and told to get lost. (more…)

L.A. County Jail – My Yelp Review

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Yelp reviews of prisons and jails? Fantastic. Count me in.

YELP_Where Excuses Go to Die I couldn’t be happier to throw in my 2¢, so here goes:

Itching for that classic nightmare detention experience? Look no further than L.A. County’s Men’s Central Jail, located at the 9th Circle of Hell in downtown Los Angeles.

If you’ve seen prison movies or watched cable TV handcuff porn, you may think you know what to expect. Yet L.A.’s 2nd oldest jail never fails to surprise and inform. Not only will your experience unlock the power of contingency-based behavioral conditioning, you’ll travel down an interpersonal rabbit hole of unimaginable depth, where each “teachable moment” is more fantastic than the last.

LA COUNTY HELLSo ask yourself: how much would you pay for a vacation souvenir that allows you to walk away from annoying coworkers with the knowledge that they wouldn’t last two minutes in the trauma grinder from which you’ve just emerged? Even your overbearing boss would be reduced to a bedwetting mute! Every time you see a self-important schmuck rolling up his car window at the sight of an approaching homeless person, you’ll be able to call up the memory of what happened to that uppity lawyer from Encino, awaiting arrangement on DUI number five. Whoops! He didn’t see that on MSNBC’s “Lockup!”

(more…)

A Prison Bitch by Another Name

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Who says jail tormentors must have dicks to be scary?

Kate del CastilloA long-haired blond was shoved onto the 9000 block of L.A.’s infamous Men’s Central Jail, a surfer-boy among the Latino gang veteranos, the gringo trash, the Crips, Bloods, old timers, and fresh fish. Resisting arrest and two counts of grand theft auto, we heard. No doubt the deputies had a laugh as they waved surfer-boy on, into the general population. The fellas thought he should’ve been sent to the soft tank with the “trannies and homos.” Too late now.

Like me, the guy clearly had no jail experience, but regardless of my fear and need for someone to talk to, I didn’t go near that fool. He was radioactive. I’d arrived just a few weeks prior, and already I’d seen enough to stay clear. The guy might have protested getting stuck with the “faggots, bitches, putas, and pussies,” but it would’ve been far better than what actually happened to him. (more…)

Making Excuses for Incompetence: L.A. County Sheriff’s Edition

Friday, March 1st, 2013

APOCALYPSE HOOSEGOW 7

Not six months ago, the L.A. County supervisors’ Commission on Jail Violence concluded that Sheriff Lee Baca would have been fired for incompetence if he’d been employed in the private sector.

For everything from favoring campaign contributors and “Friends of the Sheriff” to allegations of deputy cruelty and inhumane conditions in the jails, from deputies forming their own gangs and factions (only to attack each other) to heroin burritos and FBI-smuggled cellphones (for real-time corroboration from jailed informants), one might be tempted to believe Baca might finally be held accountable for his misdeeds.

The bad news is that a sheriff, an elected official, isn’t subject to the authority of a Board of Supervisors, so Baca can’t be fired for the negligence, mismanagement, or lack of accountability and transparency cited in the Commission’s findings. But the good news is, he probably won’t be running unopposed in the next election, as he had in 2010. (more…)

“I Told You So” Level 8

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

On September 28, 2012, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence released its official report on what the L.A. Times called, “a lack of meaningful oversight” within the County jail system, as well as “an institutional culture of arrogance and impunity” with regards to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

‘Course, when you’re one of the “bad guys,” you think twice about mentioning crappy accommodations and the uppity desk clerk. In part, that’s how things in L.A. got so bad – some people needed to forget, others questioned their right to say anything, and most doubted the likelihood of their being listened to. (more…)