African-Americans in San Francisco More Likely to Be Arrested, Booked and Convicted: Report

A new report released Tuesday shows that African-Americans in San Francisco run a greater risk of being arrested than Caucasians.

The Reentry Council of the City and County of San Francisco, which according to its website coordinates efforts to support adults exiting from local prison facilities, commissioned the report last November. It was prepared by the nonprofit W. Haywood Burns Institute.

The report finds that, in comparison to whites, blacks are 7.1 times more likely to be arrested, 11 times more likely to be booked into County Jail, and 10.3 times more likely to be convicted of a crime in San Francisco.

The disparity gap between whites and blacks arrested between 1994 and 2013 has decreased by 23 percent in California. However, that number is up 53 percent in San Francisco.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said that African-Americans make up 6 percent of the city’s population, but 50 percent of its homicide victims. They also represent 40 percent of those arrested and 44 percent of those booked into County Jail, according to the report.

But Suhr also noted that 40 percent of property-crime victims describe an African-American suspect, about the same percentage that is arrested.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who co-chairs the Reentry Council, deemed the report’s findings “damning” and “outrageous” -- especially in a city that prides itself on being progressive.

“It shows that African-Americans are more likely to be kept in custody, to be subject to higher bails, more likely to be convicted,” Adachi said.

The report also indicates that fewer blacks are able to stay out of jail prior to trial although they are more likely than their white counterparts to meet the necessary criteria for pretrial release.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón believes the report is “very concerning.”

“There is a tremendous social and economic disparity here in the city, even more so than other parts of the country,” he said.

The report suggests maintaining accurate ethnic and racial data and monitoring trends and disparities every quarter.

Adachi is now working with San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim to land funding for a Pre-Trial Detention Relief Unit, which will comprise two attorneys and two paralegals. The unit will be responsible for enabling people awaiting trial to access pretrial release programs, bail reduction and electronic monitoring.

Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

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