Statewide, the gap between the arrest rates of blacks and whites is closing. But that’s not the case in San Francisco, with blacks 7.1 times as likely as whites to be arrested in 2013 compared to being only 4.6 times as likely in 1994.
Alongside such findings, a new report released Tuesday by The City found disparities that “undermine any notion of ‘justice’ in our criminal justice system,” including data that revealed blacks were 11 times as likely as whites to be booked into County Jail and 10.3 times as likely to be convicted of a crime.
“San Francisco lags behind the rest of the state in closing the equality gap in its justice system,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in a statement.
What the Public Defender’s Office referred to as a “shocking” report on racial disparities in San Francisco courts was commissioned by The City’s Reentry Council, which Adachi co-chairs. It was completed by a nonprofit called the W. Haywood Burns Institute.
The study also found blacks are more likely to be booked into County Jail before a trial and remain there through all steps of the court process, including being less likely to be bailed out, cited and released or have their case dismissed, than whites.
The report examined racial disparities in the policing of San Francisco’s Hispanic population as well, but said its findings are skewed since population data often lumps Hispanics with whites.
“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 the statement. “In fact, it is black San Franciscans who are being over-policed and over-incarcerated.”
According to the study, some 83 percent of inmates booked into County Jail are residents of San Francisco.
The report comes at a time when arrest rates in San Francisco are at a “significant” low across the board, with arrest rates dropping 62 percent for whites and 42 percent for blacks between 1994 and 2013.
But the report also has been released during a point in The City’s history when the same Police Department that arrests black people at a higher rate than white people is being scrutinized for the actions of several officers who allegedly sent racist texts to one another.
The Sheriff’s Department is also under watch for allegations of gladiator-style betting rings put on by deputies in County Jail.
“People in jail are more likely to plead guilty just to get out, even if they’re innocent,” said Adachi.