At first blush, this study by the California Policy Lab at UCLA and UC Berkeley on the effectiveness of the pretrial release program in San Francisco would appear to prove it’s a failure. About half the defendants released without bail before their trial were arrested for another crime while free — one in six for a violent felony. And half of those released never showed up for their trials.
But the data is from 2016-2019, long before radical DA Chesa Boudin promised to drastically reduced incarcerations. According to Supervisor Catherine Stefani, the real significance of the study is the discrepancy between the CPL study and numbers supplied by the nonprofit San Francisco Pretrial Diversion Project, which has been guiding decisions on pretrial release for decades.
Here’s the point that it seems like Stefani wants to make via the Chronicle: The CPL finds around half of suspects granted pretrial release during that 3.5-year period went on to reoffend, and around half also failed to show up in court. Also, around 1 in 6 went on to commit a new violent offense, the data suggests. This is a less shiny picture that the Pretrial Diversion Project’s own data has shown, which can be explained by a number of factors the Chronicle goes over — for example, the CPL’s data includes offenses that were committed outside of San Francisco, and outside of the Pretrial Diversion Project’s 90- to 120-day purview while clients are in their programs.
The Pretrial Diversion Project says that this other data is often incomplete or hard to access, and therefore it limits its data to offenses in San Francisco and within that three- to four-month period.
“Nobody can look at this report and say we’re doing great,” said Stefani. “It validates the experience that people in San Francisco are feeling when they’re concerned about crime.”
Compare those numbers to figures released by the Pretrial Diversion Project.
Among clients in San Francisco Pretrial Diversion Project’s programs in the average year between 2016 and 2019, 63% showed up for court, 16% allegedly committed a new crime and about 5% were accused of committing a new violent crime, California Policy Lab reported.
Given that the nonprofit represented a majority of the cases in the recent report, Stefani questioned the figures. “We and the public have been led to believe they have had extremely high appearance and safety rates, and that is just not true,” she said.
The Pretrial Diversion Project has apparently never heard of the internet. These are public records that the PDP claims it has difficulty accessing.
The PDP gets its funding from the city and Stefani appears to be one of the only liberals in San Francisco who actually cares if the taxpayers’ money is being wasted. She has voted against a renewal of the non-profit’s contract twice.
Interest in the pretrial release program has been heightened in recent months as a result of two high-profile crimes.
Two recent examples of crimes that are likely driving the politics here are the suspect in the early May stabbing of two elderly Asian women on Market Street, Patrick Thompson, who last year had successfully completed SF’s mental health diversion program following a 2017 stabbing arrest; and Daniel Cauich, the suspect in the mid-June stabbing of a 94-year-old Asian woman in the Tenderloin, who had just been released from jail for a string of robberies last fall, and who was granted pretrial release after a subsequent May arrest. DA Boudin had requested Cauich remain detained, but the judge granted release anyway, with an ankle monitor and a mandate to seek substance abuse treatment.
Cauich also spent three years in jail on a murder charge which was dismissed on a technicality in early 2019.
Boudin and the other radical DAs, backed by George Soros and elected in recent years as a result of a massive effort by Democrats to transform the justice system, believe that innocent people who are killed or victimized by criminals who should be behind bars are collateral damage. It’s the price we must pay, they believe, for systemic racism and oppression.
Meanwhile, they make our cities dangerous and unlivable.