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Locked Angels


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Lisa Ling gains unprecedented access to the Los Angeles County Jail to understand what it takes to manage the country’s busiest jail.

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Inmate Reception Center (02:44)
Buses unload passengers to a non-descript location in downtown Los Angeles. Lisa Ling's film crew has access to the largest jail system in the country. Deputies search 400 new prisoners every night at the IRC.

Media Firestorm (02:37)

A report released in 2011 documents stories of police brutality within the L.A. jail system. After several deputies are found guilty of inmate abuse, Terri McDonald is appointed to overhaul the prison system. Changes include increased supervisors and a no tolerance policy.

Segregation Unit (04:08)

The Men's Central Jail is the only facility in the country that houses maximum security prisoners using open bars. Gassing deputies has become increasingly common. Inmates answer a series of questions to determine placement; at-risk individuals are separated.

Prison Gangs (02:55)

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department estimates that 10,000 affiliates are locked up each day. Deputies vet the stories of those seeking protective custody; most gang-related attacks occur in general population. There is one deputy for every 27 inmates.

Cell Searches (05:43)

Deputies search bunks weekly. Inmates pass drugs and messages using repurposed t-shirts called kites. Shot callers order other inmates to perform tasks; Lisa Ling interviews Cleamon "Big Evil" Johnson.

Mental Illness (04:52)

One in five inmates has a mental illness issue. Those who may be suicidal wear blue vests. Clinicians and deputies who are part of J-med daily assess potential mental health disorders.

Twin Towers (04:45)

This facility houses mentally ill inmates with severe conditions who cannot exist in general population. Deputy Medina receives threats daily, but feels the inmates just want to be heard. Program Divert places emphasis on communication instead of force.

Drug Addiction (03:35)

Century Regional Detention Center holds educational and counseling sessions to reduce recidivism rates.; it is a volunteer program for long-term inmates. The amount of female prisoners has increased by 700% in the past few decades.

Mothers Behind Bars (03:48)

Prisoners who did not commit a violent crime and are enrolled in educational-based programs can visit with their children for four hours per week; less than one percent of mothers can participate. Maurizia has only spent three years with her seven-year-old son.

Addressing Jail Complaints (04:41)

In the past three years, the amount of assaults committed against staff has increased by 150%. New inmates do not care about consequences. Inmate council allows low security inmates to voice concerns directly to head deputies at Pitchess Detention Center. (Credits)

Length: 40 min

Copyright Date: 2016


Locked Angels



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