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Los Angeles County officials approve proposals aimed at addressing jail problems
LOS ANGELES (AP) ' Los Angeles County officials approved two measures Tuesday aimed at tackling alleged inmate abuse by sheriff's deputies in the country's largest jail system.
One of the measures will see the creation of a seven-member oversight commission that would offer independent reviews of inmate complaints and look into the extent of inappropriate use of force in the jails.
"There has been a shattering of public confidence in the Sheriff's Department and the jails in particular," Supervisor Zav Yaroslavsky said.
Although the commission would have no legal power to compel Sheriff Lee Baca to act, it could draft recommendations that federal authorities may end up enforcing, said Yaroslavsky's spokesman, Joel Bellman. The jails already are the subject of at least one FBI probe.
Baca has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks following numerous reports he stood by while his deputies beat inmates, took bribes and covered up wrongdoings inside the sprawling jail system, which houses some 15,000 inmates.
Officials also approved several recommendations from Supervisor Gloria Molina. These include asking Baca to install cameras in the jails within 30 days, barring deputies from striking inmates' heads in most circumstances, and banning the heavy flashlights deputies carry that can be used as batons.
The Board of Supervisors drew some criticism itself, with several residents telling officials that shortcomings were partly the board's fault because supervisors had been aware of alleged problems for years.