Sheriff Lee Baca's resignation marks the end of one chapter in the unchecked violence and brutality that has plagued the entire department and notably the custody division. The Sheriff's resignation is a major victory in the fight to protect the dignity of our loved ones in the largest jail systems in the world. Sheriff Baca's willingness to resign, rather than run for re-election, signals a more sober view of the scale of the issue of sheriff brutality and corruption. It was only two years ago that Sheriff Baca gave public testimony to the Citizen's Commission on Jail Violence (CCJV), telling voter's "don't elect me" if they didn't approve of his management of the department. In his closing, the Sheriff stated that "this is the public's department not mine." The Coalition has been fighting to ensure that the public has control of the Sheriff's Department which we believe can only be achieved by implementing a Citizens Oversight Commission with subpoena power. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is currently reviewing a motion to implement such a Commission.
Despite his willful resignation, the Sheriff continues to claim that sheriff violence is not a systemic issue. The Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in LA Jails believes that the County Board of Supervisors must ensure that Sheriff Baca's resignation does not let the Department off the hook, nor should the County Board wait for Federal action to ensure that his resignation leads to long term systemic changes in the Department. They have a major moral decision ahead of them as even Sheriff Baca himself has said that a Citizens Oversight Commission would strengthen accountability and transparency. It's time to break the back of oppression, racism, and inhumanity that has plagued the department, starting by ensuring all CCJV recommendations are fully implemented and a Citizens Oversight Commission with subpoena power is implemented.
"The Board of Supervisors' moral burden is massive and their decisions will go down in history. Whether Sheriff Baca acknowledges it or not, there is no greater failure than stepping down because of the shameful conditions of the department" says Patrisse Cullors, Executive Director of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in LA Jails. [www.endsheriffviolence.org.]