Study: Half of Defendants in San Francisco Released Without Bail Re-Arrested While Free


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.

SFIST: 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.” – READ MORE

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