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County Jail Inmates Handcuffed To Walls In Their Underwear For Up To 11 Hours

Photo by tarasov via Shutterstock
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Dozens of inmates at a Castaic correctional facility who were suspected of smuggling contraband in their rectums were handcuffed to walls in their underwear for up to 11 hours, among other abuses.The L.A. Times reports that some of those inmates at the North County Correctional Facility (NCCF) maximum-security prison were "chained to the wall with their hands behind their backs, half-naked or even fully naked, sometimes with their feet shackled to the floor, as jail officials waited for them to expel contraband from their bodies."

But this incident didn't stem from rogue correctional officers going off on inmates—these practices were allowed, in writing. This policy, which was instated in 2014, was part of what's known as the "potty watch," which is when correctional officers wait for inmates whom they suspect of carrying contraband in their rectums to go to the bathroom, and thus, expelling the contraband. The policy stated that deputies "shall" handcuff inmates to the wall, and that their feet "may" also be shackled to the floor.

Peter Eliasberg, of the ACLU's Southern California branch said, "If they were in that kind of restraint for any length of time, it is absolutely abominable."

Following an investigation into the abuses that were born of this policy, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has rescinded the policy, and has referred 24 cases to the L.A. County District Attorney's office for possible prosecution. Top Sheriff's Department officials found out about the NCCF policy in February, and replaced it with a new department-wide policy that specified inmates' hands should be cuffed to their waists—and not a wall, for example—during the "potty watches," and that inmates be fully clothed, among other changes.

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In a statement, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said, "These incidents were discovered during a routine internal audit by command staff, and we determined that they could have been handled better. We immediately implemented new measures and policies to ensure it would not happen again."

This is just one of many cases of abuse at county jails, in this year alone. In July, 10 jail employees were "relieved of duty" after an inmate said he was restrained and provided no food for 32 hours. And in November, a sheriff's deputy was accused of sexually abusing female inmates. Two sheriff's deputies were indicted on corruption charges in May. In 2014, county sheriff's deputies beat an inmate who was handcuffed and shackled, before spraying him with tear gas and striking him with a flashlight. To round it all out, let's flashback to the not-so-distant past with thesehorrific stories of even more abuse at the hands of sheriff's deputies.

The NCCF currently has a two-and-a-half star review on Yelp. We wouldn't be surprised if this incident will downgrade its rating.

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