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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Report Shows Major Disparity in Treatment of African-Americans by SFPD and Courts

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 12:49 PM

click to enlarge THOMAS HAWK/FLICKR
  • Thomas Hawk/Flickr

African Americans are 7.1 times as likely as whites to be arrested in San Francisco, and the disparity in treatment between whites and Blacks extends throughout the criminal justice system, according to a new report by the San Francisco Reentry Council.  

The study found "a disproportionate number of Black adults represented at every stage of the criminal justice process" in San Francisco, including arrests, bookings in County Jail, and criminal convictions. Black adults were 11 times as likely as whites to be booked into jail and 10.3 times as likely as whites to be convicted of a crime. 

While arrests in San Francisco have been decreasing overall, the disparity between arrest rates for African Americans and whites has increased by 53% since 1994. Meanwhile, the racial disparity in arrest rates has declined slightly in California as a whole. 

The San Francisco Reentry Council is a body intended to coordinate support for people on their release from jail or prison. It is co-chaired by the Chief Adult Probation Officer, District Attorney, Mayor, Public Defender, and Sheriff.

The study found that 83 percent of people booked into San Francisco jail also live in the city. According to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, that statistic disproves a common talking point in defense of the city's disparate arrest rates.

"Too often, people dismiss the alarming racial disparities in the San Francisco County Jail by claiming that African Americans from other cities enter San Francisco to commit crimes,” Adachi said in a statement. “In fact, it is black San Franciscans who are being over-policed and over-incarcerated.”

Another key finding concerned the rates of pretrial release for individuals booked into jail. The study found that African-Americans were more likely to meet the criteria for pretrial release, but less likely to be granted it. This disparity puts an intense burden on individuals, their families, and their communities, according to Adachi.

“There is a direct correlation between being denied pretrial release and being convicted,” Adachi said. “People in jail are more likely to plead guilty just to get out, even if they’re innocent. Being allowed pretrial release means being able to hold onto your job, your housing—even your children.” 

You can read the full report here

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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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