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Inmates At Men's Central Jail Were Throwing Pee and Jelly Bombs At Deputies A Lot

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Men's Central Jail. Photo by Matthew Logelin via the LAist Featured Photos Pool on Flickr
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The deputies over at Men's County Jail got really tired of inmates flinging human waste at them, especially earlier this year, when it allegedly happened quite a bit. In one instance in early March, Deputy Stephen Vasquez had an unidentified glob thrown at his face, L.A. Times reports. The suspected flinger said it was only water and apple jelly, but Vasquez said he thought it tasted like urine—how he had this frame of reference is unclear. Vasquez described the incident as "very unpleasant" and said he had to spent a whole week sleeping on the couch and away from his fiancé until his blood tests came back negative.

This act of lockup bioterror is apparently called 'gassing,' and there are many techniques to building a better bomb. If you mix your waste with jelly, it's stickier. You can mix it with hot sauce for a kick. You can use milk cartons to hold and then launch the concoction. In the first quarter of 2014, there were 25 gassing attacks against jail staff, including one that involved a well-coordinated missile attack. It was basically a DIY Battle of Blackwater in there.

And the aggressive acts are not always pointed at guards; sometimes, inmates compete against each other.

Custody Operations Chief Eric Parra told the Times he suspects they do it because they are bored, want attention or "have other issues with respect to their mental state."

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However, Jeffrey Steck, president of the Assn. for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs, disagrees. He thinks inmates went on the gassing offensive because they were bored, yes, but also because they knew they could get away with it. He blames this on the recent scandal in which six deputies were found guilty of hindering an FBI investigation into claims of abuse, and the other deputies transitioned to using less force. Patrisse Cullors, founder of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails, thinks that the jail should consider the possibility that they are provoking the gassing attacks or that they're derivative of the inmates not having their needs met.

To try to combat gassing, the most prolific gassers were placed in a row of cells known as 'gassers' alley.' In gassers' alley, you don't get to watch TV and are fed only a block of nutrients, which is reportedly even worse than your standard jail fare. The cells were also fortified, and jailers knew to exercise caution when using the ever dangerous food slot. The jail is also seeking stricter sentencing for gassing.

In addition to punishments, Men's Central Jail also took on a tactic of rewards, including access to counselors and other benefits that higher security inmates might not usually be allowed.

For now, the deputies of Men's Central Jail seem to have been given a gassing respite. Since the mass gassing attack of April, there have only been three instances. Six of the nine notorious gassers have managed to earn their way back into general population.