SF officials push to reform electronic monitoring

‘We are failing the public’

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman are seeking to reform The City’s electronic monitoring program, which they say needs to be revamped because its use as an alternative to incarceration has increased significantly while detained people continue to commit crimes.

“Electronic monitoring is essential in our work to reduce incarceration. But if it is failing as a tool for deterrence, then it is failing those we are trying to keep out of jail and we are failing the public,” Breed said. “By working with the sheriff and adult probation, we can reform and strengthen this important public safety tool that can keep people out of jail, and prevent future contact with the criminal justice system.”

Officials said use of electronic monitoring for people who are out of custody increased to 63% from 37% % in 2020.

Breed has requested the Sheriff’s Department and the Adult Probation Department come up with ways to make the program more effective in reducing recidivism.

Mandelman has also requested probation officers provide certain data, including the effectiveness of electronic monitoring after a person convicted of a crime has been sentenced.

In July, Mandelman asked the Sheriff’s Department for information about The City’s electronic monitoring of people charged with a crime in the pretrial phase.

Data revealed that while 328 people were on electronic monitoring as of July 31, 126 failed to comply with the terms of the program. In addition, data showed people on electronic monitoring committed serious felonies including assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, child molestation, attempted murder, rape, robbery and carrying a loaded gun, city officials said.

“One out of every three people on pretrial electronic monitoring in San Francisco removes their ankle monitor or commits other crimes,” Mandelman said. “If one out of every three cells in our jail had broken locks, we would do something about it. We must continue to invest in alternatives to incarceration, and we must ensure that those alternatives are effective so that we keep the public safe and break the cycle of recidivism and re-incarceration.”

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