Best California City For Criminals: San Francisco
More shootings in San Francisco have been tied to criminals who were out on the street because of San Francisco's lenient treatment of violent criminals. Indeed, San Francisco sends fewer people to state prison than any other county in California -- the rate of state incarceration is 10 times less than in San Diego county, for example. District Attorney Kamala Harris' office is responsible for prosecuting San Francisco's criminal suspects.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, roughly 4 of every 100 arrests result in prison terms in San Francisco, compared with 12.8 out of 100 in Alameda County, 14.4 of 100 in Sacramento County, 21 of 100 in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, 26.6 of 100 in Fresno County, 38.7 of 100 in Los Angeles County and 41 of 100 in San Diego County."
And when it comes to murder, statistics show that San Francisco prosecutors have had ample opportunities to keep criminals off the streets. The Chronicle reports that fully "83 percent of people identified by police as suspects in San Francisco killings in 2004 and 2005 had criminal records. The identified suspects had an average of 11 arrests apiece."
The story of criminals with long arrest records who easily escape jail time and come back to the city to commit more crimes is an ongoing problem in San Francisco. (See: San Francisco Prosecutors Asleep at the Wheel.)
Indeed, in a recent SFPD Community Newsletter (PDF), Lt. Garret Tom writes:
"These street thugs and career criminal blatantly violate the law here in San Francisco and know there will be no sanctions. As a result, there are no changes in their behavior. This might be a shock to you but it's not to any San Francisco Police Officer. This particular suspect was arrested for 50 felonies (serious crimes punishable by state prison more than a year) and 27 misdemeanors (crimes punishable less than one year in the county jail). This is only his San Francisco Criminal Record. I am not talking about arrests in other jurisdictions."
Evidence of these policies is clearly visible beyond the statistics as well. San Francisco police are known to discourage citizens from following through with crime reports because they know that the San Francisco District Attorney's office won't likely bother to prosecute the cases.
It is well known that drug dealers commute to San Francisco from Alameda county because they know there is a low likelihood of arrest in San Francisco, much less actual jail time for the crimes if they're caught. Consequently, there seems to be little enforcement of most quality of life crimes in the city. Visitors strolling around the city are more than likely to see open drug use and drug dealing and rampant graffiti vandalism.
Update (4/19/07): Another death attributed to a long-time San Francisco criminal who was repeatedly released or not charged by San Francisco DA's office:
A 25-year-old San Francisco man with a long criminal history fled a traffic stop Wednesday and struck and killed a motorist in the Bayview district, police said...
He was also on felony probation stemming from a 2005 burglary case in which a San Francisco judge gave him credit for four months he had spent in County Jail and put him on probation for three years. Burns received the sentence as part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped robbery charges in connection with a home invasion robbery March 11, 2005.
He was sent back to jail repeatedly for violating terms of his probation, but each time was back on the street in a short time, court documents show.
Garcia is the third person in San Francisco killed in less than a week by suspects with felony records who have been allowed to go free despite recent arrests for guns or other serious charges.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the victim's family "wondered Thursday how Burns -- who has been convicted of drug and burglary charges and had multiple brushes with police in the last year -- could still be on the street."
Unfortunately, because of San Francisco's unwillingness to pursue "quality of life" crimes, and the DA's unwillingness to prosecute career criminals, the Garcia family won't be the last one to suffer such a loss."
From San Francisco Chronicle: "S.F. man involved in fatal shootout is charged"
The violence came on the heels of criticism leveled by San Francisco police over what they characterize as a lenient criminal justice system that frequently fails to seriously punish repeat offenders -- even when they were arrested on gun charges and for other serious felonies.
San Francisco prosecutors decided not to file a gun-possession charge against Simon after an arrest on July 2. At the time of that arrest, Simon was on parole after serving half of a three-year state prison sentence for drug dealing out of Alameda County.
According to a police report, officers were directed to a liquor store by an informant who told them Simon was inside and armed with a handgun. When police arrived, they found Simon wheeling forward from the back of the store, where officers found a weapon on a shelf.
Police submitted the case to the district attorney's office, but prosecutors declined to file charges and instead referred the matter to state corrections officials, seeking to have Simon returned to prison for violating the terms of his parole.
More Information: San Francisco Chronicle:
- 17 Hours Put Justice System in Spotlight
- Nuisance Criminal Personifies Flaws of S.F. Justice System
- Long Rap Sheet for Suspect in Officer's Death
- San Francisco Car Break-ins Out of Hand
- San Francisco Police Arrest Suspect in Man's Hit and Run Death
- Victim of San Francisco's Revolving Door Justice: S.F. man who was in and out of jail charged in death of immigrant
- S.F. man involved in fatal shootout is charged