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ACLU Alleges Inmate Abuse, Calls for Sheriff Baca to Resign

Baca in Feb. 2010 (Photo by NewsSpy via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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Is there "pervasive abuse" going on inside our jails? That's the accusation levied by the American Civil Liberties Union in a new report that targets Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and calls for his resignation.

"Sheriff Baca bears ultimate responsibility for the horrific details we uncovered compiling this report and must step down," said Peter Eliasberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, reports L.A. Now.

The report relies on sworn testimony from 70 individuals who say they witnessed beatings. Their statements are predominantly focused on incidents at the Men's Central and Twin Towers jails in 2010 and 2011. The statements were provided by volunteers, not inmates, as in previous years. The report alleges that the deputies function as gangs bent on systematically attacking inmates.

Baca says inmate reports of abuse are on the decline, however the ACLU says it's because the inmates fear for their lives and opt to not report incidents of brutality at the hands of deputies.

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The ACLU believes the only solution is for Baca to leave his post.

Wednesday evening, Baca addressed the accusations in the report at a press conference. He decried the allegations as false, and said he would not step down as Sheriff. Baca is in his fourth term in the elected position, and believes it should be up to the voters to decide if he should stay in his job.

"ACLU officials said that if Baca refuses to resign, the Board of Supervisors should take over operation of the jails," reports the Press-Telegram.

Despite Baca's claims the ACLU's allegations are untrue, the FBI is looking into at least two cases in which inmates allege abuse at the hands of deputies working in the jails.