California History: A Topical Approach

By Gordon Morris Bakken | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
L.A. behind Bars,
1847 to 1886:
Establishing a
Secure Institution

John Joseph Stanley

The light of review shines very brightly on Los Angeles County jails at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The Los Angeles County jail system is the largest in the country. On any given day more than 20,000 inmates are housed within the ten jails it comprises. The Los Angeles County jail system is sophisticated. Inmates are carefully screened at intake and are housed according to their various needs. Various state and federal court decisions and mandates dictate how inmates are classified. One court decision mandates that all male inmates claiming to be homosexual are interviewed to determine whether this is true and are then segregated from the general inmate population.1 The United States Department of Justice also regulates where and how mentally disturbed inmates are housed due to past allegations of poor treatment of these persons. The number of inmates taking psychiatric medication in Los Angeles jails is in the thousands and rivals even the largest psychiatric hospitals in the nation. More than

This photograph of Los Angeles taken in 1869 shows the old brick jail (arrow) built in 1853
and completed in 1854 as well as the stockade subsequently built around it.

-42-

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