Study: African Americans in San Francisco arrested at higher rate than whites

SAN FRANCISCO -- A new study is pointing out wide racial disparities in San Francisco's criminal justice system. It concludes that African Americans are being arrested and convicted at disproportionately higher rates than whites.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi co-chairs the San Francisco Re-Entry Council, the group that ordered the study. He claims the report shows that racial profiling is rampant and extends from the street, into the jails, and into the court system.

Reaction among the public who attended the meeting was fast and furious.

"If it was you and if it was your children and if you're not black, this would be a state of an emergency," said Village Connect founder Gaylon Logan Jr.

The report shows that while San Francisco's black population has declined to only 6 percent, they are now 40 percent of those arrested, 44 percent of those booked in county jail, and 40 percent of defendants convicted in court.

"It also shows that African Americans are seven times as likely as whites to be arrested, 11 times as likely to be booked in county jail, and 10 times as likely to be convicted of a crime," Adachi said.

Many said the solution was prevention -- getting jobs for young African Americans who might otherwise turn to crime.

"We don't need no more data," said community activist Marilyn Jones. "We need to take that money that you spend counting us and put it into the black community."

Fellow community activist Frank Williams added, "What money is really being put into our youth? Why they not getting jobs?"

Members of the council representing law enforcement said reforms were needed to remove the disparities.

"What it is is another reminder of how urgent the need is to act on these issues both in identifying the cause and also taking accountability," said Assistant District Attorney Cristine Soto-DeBerry.

Police Chief Greg Suhr says to put the stats in perspective, you have to also look at the ethnicity and race of the victims who call police

"Crime is usually pretty local right?" he said. "So in a lot of the neighborhoods where there are largely communities of color, they're disproportionately victimized as well. And we swore an oath to respond to those calls for service no matter who calls."

Suhr says his department is also engaging young people of color through the San Francisco Summer Jobs+ program and those that help them graduate from high school. He says those programs are essential and are starting to bear fruit. Click here for more information on those programs.
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