Inmates at two Los Angeles-area jails have allegedly been subjected to violent beatings and abuse by prison guards for at least four years, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
FBI Special Agent David Dahle said that inmates at Men’s Central Jail and the mental health wings of Twin Towers Correctional Facility were arbitrarily assaulted by prison guards, allowed to smuggle in drugs and other contraband for bribes, and permitted to enter other inmates’ cells to fight. “Dozens, if not hundreds” of these accusations exist.
In what is probably the most egregious charge, the inmates also allege that prison guards forced them into “gladiator-style” fights, sometimes filming them, according to the report.
Six sheriff’s deputies face federal obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges for attempting to cover up reports of abuse at the jails. On top of those charges, the jails are reportedly still being investigated by a grand jury for civil rights abuses and corruption, with 20 arrests made in that case so far.
Investigators initially had trouble corroborating the inmates’ reports of abuse; ultimately, they decided to sneak a phone into one of the jails, using a corrupt deputy to orchestrate it. Inmate Anthony Brown was given the phone, which he used to secretly record conversations with prison guards in an attempt to catch the abuse in real-time.
Deputies at the jail reportedly discovered the phone immediately, and they also learned that Brown had been talking to the FBI. That’s when prosecutors say deputies at the jail conspired to keep Brown out of the FBI’s reach, moving him from jail to jail and booking him under fake names.
At the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox reportedly asked Special Agent Dahle whether he thought there was a “turf war” between the jail’s sheriff’s deputies and the FBI. Special Agent Dahle told him the deputies’ actions more resembled a deliberate “pattern and practice.”