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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

S.F. Public Defender's Office Unsubtly Flogs New Study on Racial Disparity in Criminal Justice System

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 2:43 PM

click to enlarge Silent film stars know that sometimes justice is a Black-and-White issue
  • Silent film stars know that sometimes justice is a Black-and-White issue
In the midst of an ongoing budget standoff with Mayor Newsom and his gang (they all wear matching jackets and comb their hair straight back), Public Defender Jeff Adachi today fired off a press release touting the findings of a new study from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

The public defender's interest in spreading the news about racial disparity in the criminal justice system is both professional and political; eradicating this kind of bias is Adachi's ostensible raison d'être -- but it's also a none-too-veiled way of saying "My work is valuable. You need me. Don't gut my office." Or, as Adachi himself put it: "This report demonstrates that one of the only protections we have against the disparate treatment of people of color in the criminal justice system is a competent and effective public defender's office." We're sure he dictated that quote very emphatically.

Anyhow, here are some highlights of the NCCD study:

  • Blacks are arrested at 2.5 times the rate for whites overall, and at six times whites' rate for murder, robbery, and gambling;
  • A black person convicted of a violent crime, on average, receives a prison sentence a year longer than a white person;
  • Blacks are admitted to prison at nearly six times whites' rate;
  • Blacks land on death row at roughly five times whites' rate.
You can read the entire report (it's 44 pages long; these are just snippets) here. For more articles about Adachi's game of budget chicken with the mayor, see here, here, and here

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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