Los Angeles County Sheriff

By Cindy Chang
October 2, 2014

Federal officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities.

In a letter sent to the county last week, the Department of Justice said that despite some progress, it remained “concerned about the sustainability and future durability of the reforms.”

The county jails have been monitored by federal officials for the last 12 years under an agreement requiring improvements in treatment of the mentally ill. On June 4, the Department of Justice announced it would seek court oversight of the jails, citing a dramatic increase in inmate suicides.

In the Sept. 25 letter, federal officials said they hoped to have a draft of a consent decree ready this week. The county’s written response to the Justice Department’s June 4 letter was not enough to avert federal oversight, given “the severity of the issues” and the failure of the 2002 agreement to sufficiently improve jail conditions, they wrote.

A consent decree would be overseen by a federal judge and probably cost the county millions of dollars to implement.

“We are in active negotiations with the DOJ, but it is premature to discuss any specifics,” Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald, who oversees custody operations, said in a written statement. “We remain committed to working with DOJ and providing appropriate care to the inmate population.”

To read entire story, click here.