Yesterday, Los Angeles County voted to pay out $14 million to settle a class action suit that claimed that the Sheriff’s Department illegally held more than 18,500 people in jail beyond their release dates.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to settle, so the only thing left is a judge’s approval. This lawsuit was filed in 2012 and alleged that over the span of four years, the Sheriff’s Department consistently held people for as long as months beyond their release dates and did not allow them to post bail because of pending immigration investigations from ICE. A federal judge ruled in 2018 that this holding of people violated their 4th amendment rights. The Department stopped honoring detainer requests in 2014.
Jennie Pasquarella, an ACLU attorney who represented the plaintiffs, stated that this settlement “should send a very strong message to law enforcement agencies around the country who continue to blindly comply with ICE’s requests that are patently unlawful”. Another attorney for the plaintiffs, Lindsay Battles, emphasized this case’s significance because it establishes that the Sheriff’s Department “callously denied immigrants constitutional protections that universally apply to all other jail detainees — including the right to post bail and the right to be released from custody under the same terms as any other arrestee or jail detainee.”
The ACLU has said that each plaintiff will receive anywhere from $250 to $25,000, depending on how long they were held, and that the remaining funds will go to legal aid programs in L.A. County. The lawsuit was originally filed by British filmmaker Duncan Roy, who spent almost three months in L.A. County jail with no chance to post bail after he was arrested in 2011. The Sheriff’s Department’s practices have changed drastically since this lawsuit was filed.
Media Resources: U.S. News 10/13/20, Los Angeles Times 10/13/20