Disparate Arrest Rates in SF “Undermine Any Notion of Justice,” Says New Report


The city’s law enforcement leaders are under fire following the release of a report by the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) indicating that African-Americans in San Francisco find themselves in handcuffs and behind bars at an alarmingly disproportionate rate.



According to the report, while Black adults in 2013 only represented 6 percent of the adult population of San Francisco, “they represented 40 percent of people arrested, 44 percent of people booked in County Jail, and 40 percent of people convicted.”


That makes Black adults seven times as likely to be arrested, 11 times as likely to be booked and 10 times as likely to be convicted as white adults who make up nearly half of San Francisco’s adult population.


The report titled “San Francisco Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Racial and Ethnic Disparities Analysis for the Reentry Council” also reveals that the arrest rates of Black adults in San Francisco nearly doubled since 20 years ago.


Meanwhile, the arrest rates of whites, Latinos and Asian Pacific Islanders have remained fairly constant in that time span.


Researchers also found discrepancies in who is eligible for pretrial release, which allows people awaiting trial to do so at home rather than in jail. While Black adults met the criteria more often than white adults did, they were less likely to be granted pretrial releases by judges.


Experts from the institute claim that rampant racial profiling, the displacement of Black communities and the massive gap in wealth between Black and white populations are main contributing factors to the city’s unequal treatment within criminal justice process.


The study’s recommendations for confronting the disparities include developing an accurate data system to monitor ethnic and racial disparities on a quarterly basis, whose results should be made publicly accessible.


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