About Cindy Chang

Cindy Chang covers the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department for the Los Angeles Times. Previously, she worked at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where her beats included city government, schools and special projects. She was the lead writer for a series on Louisiana prisons that won several national awards. A graduate of Yale University and NYU School of Law, she began her journalism career at the Pasadena Star-News.

The LAPD’s biggest conundrum: How to suppress crime without alienating South L.A.’s black residents

On a chilly night in South Los Angeles, a young black man stood on the sidewalk watching police officers rummage through his car. Their reason for stopping him: the tinted front windows on his Nissan Maxima. Because he was on probation, the officers could legally conduct a search. It was the first of four times that Rio Cater would be stopped by police that night. When an officer praised his cooperative attitude, Cater, 28, replied that he was trying to avoid being ha— … “Don’t say the … [Read more...]

L.A. County Jail Itself Poses Hurdle to Helping Mentally Ill Inmates

In most parts of Men's Central Jail, there is no natural light, only views of cell bars or scrums of inmates crowded in bunk beds pushed together end to end. Toilets back up because of the antiquated 50-year-old plumbing system. Many men get out of their cells for only three hours a week. All the while, they have to remain vigilant to avoid attacks from other prisoners and, in some cases, the deputies who guard them. or people who already are mentally ill, as more than 10% of Men's Central … [Read more...]

Consultant’s Report Clashes with Calls for Smaller Men’s Central Jail

A consultant hired by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has determined that the new Men's Central Jail should contain about 5,000 beds — roughly the same number as a plan that the board voted to put on hold last month. Three supervisors, including newly elected Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, want to reexamine the size of the proposed new jail, which they believe could be reduced if more inmates, particularly those with mental illness, are placed in treatment programs in the … [Read more...]

L.A. County Unable to Avert Federal Oversight of Jails

deral officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities. In a letter sent to the county last week, the Department of Justice said that despite some progress, it remained "concerned about the sustainability and future durability of the reforms." The county jails have been monitored by federal officials for the last … [Read more...]

Baca, Tanaka Sharply Criticized in Final Sheriff Watchdog’s Report

n a stinging final rebuke, the longtime civilian watchdog for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department accused top leaders of letting their worst employees run rampant, causing a series of scandals that tarnished the agency. Merrick Bobb has been the Board of Supervisors' special counsel reviewing the department for 22 years, and has written reports on how the agency is run. But this last report before Bobb steps aside was particularly cutting, placing much of the blame for a jail abuse … [Read more...]