At least 1,480 wrongful jailings have occurred at the L.A. County Jail over the last five years, something the Sheriff isn’t proud of. As a result, he has vowed to make significant changes including establishing a task force to look at the whys and the what can be dones.
The LA Times uncovered the many wrongful jailings in an investigation that focused on the already-troubled LA County Jail. Many of those who were jailed were ultimately held for weeks before the mistake was caught and they were freed.
Baca says he will establish a task force that will likely be led by his detectives chief, a patrol commander, and a jail captain. About the incarcerations, he said, “It’s a horrible reality of what is basically the imperfect nature of the criminal justice system. No one who is an innocent person should ever be tied in with the criminal justice system.”
The jail is already facing problems for deputy misconduct and inmate mistreatment and abuse.
But the errors that lead to the wrong person being jailed can’t only be blamed on jail personnel. There are many steps that a warrant must go through from the time it’s issued until it is served and the person is ultimately jailed.
Warrants often include a nine digit number that matches the fingerprints of the suspect. Arresting officers use the name as well as birth date and driver’s license number to check for warrants before bringing someone in a verifying their fingerprints. Sometimes, however, these checks and balances fail.
Some warrants are missing information. Some cops don’t check and recheck identity. And many of those who are jailed incorrectly are done so because the arrestee is brought in by an outside agency and those within the L.A. County system assume that agency took steps to ensure the correct identity.
Overall, such cases are rare. But any number of wrongful incarcerations is too many.
When you’re arrested on a warrant, you can almost see the police officer feeling smug about “catching the bad guy”. But when you aren’t the bad guy they are looking for, your cries often go unheeded. They assume you are just blowing smoke in an attempt to get out of trouble.
Even if you are named on the warrant and they do have probable cause that it was YOU who committed the offense in question, doesn’t automatically mean you will be found guilty of a crime and sentenced to prison time. You still have options.
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense or if you know you have an active warrant, contact our offices today for a consultation and to see how we can help.