Jermond Davis waited anxiously in the front row to hear his name called so that he could tell his story to the public. All he needed was the podium, which at the time was occupied by a woman who with tears in her eyes spoke out against the brutality suffered by her son at the hands of deputy sheriffs.

He and roughly 19,000 inmates were packed into the jail cells of L.A. County.

“I was very shook,” Davis said to a packed house of concerned citizens at a town hall meeting held Thursday at the 28th Street YMCA by the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. jails (C2ESV).

“It was scarier than getting shot at. I was getting beat by sheriffs, but what could I do. This is the law. Who can I tell? Better yet, who will believe me? What am I able to do?”

As a former gang member, Davis was charged with robbery and jailed for several months in 2006.

Today, the 26-year-old aspiring rapper wishes to bring awareness to the criminality that occurs within county jails by its overseers.

“I still deal with it,” he added. “They [sheriffs] once put both my hands in cuffs and took me to a blind spot where no one else could witness and began punching and kicking me multiple times and attempted to go further with sexual gestures saying ‘we should stick our shoes in his [expletive].’ I don’t wish that on anyone. So I’m willing to help the coalition in any way I can. I’m in it to the finish.”

According to the information provided by www.endsheriffviolence.org, rookie deputies only receive two hours of custody specific-training during their stint in the academy. In addition, the same amount of time is devoted to mental-health specific training. The website also reveals that Blacks and Latinos account for 80 percent of the population throughout all Los Angeles jails.

In an effort to change the situation, the C2ESV is on a youth-led crusade to implement a permanent civilian review board over the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

Leading the charge to fair inmate treatment is the coalition’s founding member and organizer, Patrisse Cullors, who wasted no time in delivering a chilling story of her own.

“Thirteen years ago my brother was incarcerated inside an L.A. County jail,” she explained. “He was brutalized by four or five deputies. He was beaten so bad that he blacked out. When he awoke he was in a pool of his own blood. He thought he was going to die there. When my mother called the sheriff’s department to check on her son, they continued to give her the run-around.”

Culllors went on to say in a private interview, “This coalition is my family’s justice. It’s also justice for the rest of the families who have loved ones who for years have been treated like animals by sheriff deputies.”

In October 2011, the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review released a report entitled, “Violence in the Los Angeles County Jails: A Report on Investigations and Outcomes.” It states:
“The jail population of between 15,000 and 18,500 includes many sophisticated or hardened detainees, many with competing gang affiliations, and many others either awaiting trial or having been recently convicted for violent offenses.

“The 3,500 sheriff’s deputies who work in the jails–generally at the beginning of their careers and are relatively inexperienced–may be called upon to quell violence between or among inmates or defend themselves from assaults by inmates. The difficult task for the department is to sort out the seemingly justified and necessary force incidents from those times in which deputies inflict unnecessary, unjustified, and inappropriate force on inmates.”

Last year, a profusion of allegations and reports emerged in regard to the ill-treatment of county jail detainees, which begged the question of whether the department’s brass were oblivious to deputy misconduct on the lower level or tacitly allowing it to happen.

No matter the reason, the sheriff’s department can’t police itself, asserts County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who made a brief appearance to speak at the town hall.

Ridley-Thomas also mentioned that the board of supervisors don’t have the flexibility to increase their collective workload to directly oversee the sheriff.

Thomas finished by endorsing the C2ESV and its vision for the future.

“They (the sheriff’s department) won’t feel pressure if no one’s watching, monitoring, overseeing and holding them accountable. We must push for this issue and don’t turn back because if you do, you are abandoning your post. Stand up and push until victory is won.”

In order to move forward with the process, two additional supervisors must offer their approval, Cullors warned. She is hoping to have legislation ready in a couple of months.

“The next district we plan to go to is Supervisor Gloria Molina’s district (in June),” she added. “Because of our work she is leaning toward saying that we might need civilian oversight. The next will be Supervisor Michael Antonovich. We will go to their districts and have town halls just like we did today.

It’s our time.”

In addition, the coalition has created an online petition for county residents to sign asking for a civilian review board.

To learn more about the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. jails (C2ESV), or to complete the petition form, visit www.endsheriffviolence.org.