Posts Tagged ‘L.A. County Jail’

Excuses, Dishonesty, and Tragedy

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

A daughter’s collect call from jail interrupts Thanksgiving dinner

Jail is the New GroundedTo look at Everett and Ella, you’d never know they’re the parents of a troubled, incarcerated daughter. They’re both successful in careers they love and they both espouse the family values with which they were raised, albeit modernized ones. Their home, where my wife and I were guests for Thanksgiving dinner, sits on a nice street in a neighborhood just about any set of young parents could happily work with.

When the phone rang the air at the table thickened slightly, as if a fly had entered the airspace. If the fly knows what’s good for it, it had better not land. A second ring offered a perspective on what it’s like to be the fly, buzzing in during dinner, which for Everett and Ella is a consistently early evening affair.

It was their old-school land-line ringing, and because, like a lot of us, they live and work by their iPhones, that meant that whoever was being ignored was family. Who else, besides mom and dad, first dials a land line these days? Regardless, ring number three provided satisfaction in the parental example they were setting for their four-year-old boy: no matter who’s buzzing around, during dinner, nobody touches the phone or the television. (more…)

Where Excuses Go to Die is now on Kickstarter

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Your minor contribution is a thank you to prison educators.

    And the “first responders of rehabilitation” are why this book needs an audience.

California_Where Excuses Go to DieI exchanged letters with each of the instructors and prison educators I encountered during my incarceration. As I was transferred from facility to facility, their words of encouragement were invaluable. They made me feel like I mattered, which is funny coming from a spoiled young adult.

The fact that they didn’t let go of the rope or forget what they saw in me has a lot to do with why I never re-offended; instead, I applied myself. Each teacher encouraged me differently, but they all said, “Never say no to a writing class.”

Investing in myself wasn’t something I grasped too well back then, so I took a variety of courses for no reason other than I thought I owed it to those instructors. They’d helped me discover a voice, which I used to make others laugh. But since my audience was mostly an inmate one (i.e. both captive and desperate for humor), I was steered toward disciplining my gift instead, which was freeing. Before then, I’d only ever viewed the concept of discipline in terms of religious and scholastic compliance. Suddenly it was no longer something you got subjected to, but a sharpening tool you could wield. (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…)

Apocalypse Hoosegow 5: L.A. Sheriff Face-palm Edition

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) says reforms designed to address violence in county jails have worsened morale, calling recent reports of abuse “exaggerated.” L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who on the one hand claims to have implemented those reforms, now says his beleaguered Deputies can’t do their jobs ‘cause they’re being picked on. The “Teflon Sheriff” blames jail inmates for increasing violence instead, saying they’ve grown “significantly more hostile toward Deputies and resistant to their directives.” 

“At some point in time, if the inmates feel empowered, they will riot. They will try to take it over,” said Floyd Hayhurst, president of the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. “You can feel it in the building when the morale is down. The inmates sense that too.” (more…)

Where Excuses Go to Die is now on Facebook

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

And the creation of its page coincides with the crumbling of the walls around that secret society of thugs known as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. With its members turning on each other and the Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. finally being exposed for the Academy of Excessive Force it’s always been, I figured it was time to share what it’s been like to bring this story to market. (more…)

Apocalypse Hoosegow 4: Of Heroin Burritos and “Dings” at L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

I’ve seen the mentally ill scurry from beatings under bunks, behind trashcans, and between walls and toilets. I’ve also witnessed Sheriff’s Deputies chasing these “Dings” down to hogtie ‘em and leave ‘em that way until their wrists and feet turned so purple I wanted to scream in anger. It’s all coming back now – but this time, finally, it’s coming back publically.

First of all, “Ding” is a jail term for prisoners suffering from obvious mental health issues. Jabbering crazy dudes are everywhere in jail, and most of ‘em like to hide – in corridors, showers, laundry areas, etc. They also jump out at you, yell at you, grab your food while you’re eating, and keep you up at all hours. So naturally, Dings get the shit beaten out of ‘em night and friggen’ day. (more…)

From Beat-downs to Bear Hugs

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

My Journey from L.A. County Custody to Sheriff Lee Baca’s Wild World of Wheelin’ and Dealin’

'03 Gold Star AwardsIn 2003 I was hired to write a teleplay for the 2nd Annual California Gold Star Awards: Dedicated to Homeland Security – a Donald Sterling, black-tie, $25,000 per-table fundraiser for the Orange County Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association held at the Disneyland Hotel. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca was representing, and security for the luminary-laden event was, according to the official press release, listed as “war mode.”

Now for those of you somehow unfamiliar with the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, the event’s principal underwriter, Donald Sterling, is one of Southern California’s largest real estate moguls. He’s also routinely accused of flagrant racism, not least of all by the U.S. Department of Justice for his attempts to exclude blacks, Latinos and prospective tenants with children from renting apartments in properties he owns. Even when it appears as though others are honoring him, words like “fake,” “ugly,” and “mirage” have been used to describe Sterling’s garish “philanthropy,” while he himself enjoys a widespread reputation for being miserly, sexist, and self-aggrandizing. (UPDATE: 8/6/14 Well, I guess there’s no question now what the world thinks of the man now, eh?)  (more…)

Apocalypse Hoosegow Part III: L.A. Sheriff’s Vengeance University

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The most gruesome prison movie couldn’t depict daily life in L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail, where I was lost for months.

Kickoff article: L.A. Weekly

Everything about the L.A. Men’s Central Jail – and I mean everything, from the hand-picked Catholic chaplains pressured to keep quiet, infirmary services, kitchens, visiting policies, and all conditions (more…)

Thread Count: Screw You!

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Original story in the Los Angeles Times | Monday, July 5, 2010

“’L.A. County jails are equipped with so-called suicide-safe blankets purchased for less than $55 each; the thicker, sturdier blankets sheriff’s officials had requested cost more than $135 each,’ said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. (more…)