Jail is never an easy place to be, but some jails are worse than others. In recent weeks, details concerning the abuse of inmates at Los Angeles County Jail have come to light as officials take a closer look at those in charge and the culture they fostered under their rule.
According to various reports from the LA Times, Captain Daniel Cruz, who has since been relieved of his duties at the jail, not only allowed inmate abuse to happen but joked about it and minimized it in the face of scrutiny.
His former Lieutenant testified that at the yearly Christmas party, deputies and Cruz laughed about the slogan they used to encourage beatings that didn’t leave marks. The slogan: “Not in the face.”
Of course, Cruz has denied all allegations, saying he is not perfect but never went so far as to encourage abuse. “I accept responsibility for anything I’ve done wrong,” he said. “I should get commended for the things I’ve done right.”
He is also accused of watching a video of a jailhouse beating, executed by his deputies, and not seeing any abuse. The recording showed one deputy, “casually leaning against a door frame, occasionally landing knee drops into the prisoner’s torso,” according to the Times.
Reportedly, while watching the recording with other officials, Bruz turned to the other supervisors and said, “I see nothing wrong with that use of force.”
Reports indicate that Cruz minimized allegations of abuse and dissuaded closer looks into deputy behavior.
But he isn’t the only one being criticized. Those testifying said the problems “went all the way to the top.” Paul Tanaka, the department’s second in demand, made a regular practice of criticizing internal affairs, saying that the department’s 45 internal affairs investigators were “44 too many.”
Tanaka also reportedly told supervisors at the jail that they needed to “allow their deputies to work in the gray area,” encouraging questionable behavior without repercussions.
Currently, the county jails commission is investigating all of the allegations, though Cruz is confident he will be back to work soon. He has been on administrative leave since last November.
When you are arrested and taken to jail, it can be very frightening. But it’s especially scary when you aren’t only concerned about the other inmates, but the jailers. It’s the job of your defense attorney to help ensure you spend as little time in jail as possible.