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Sentencing Commission

Advancing Public Safety and Utilizing Best Practices

The San Francisco Sentencing Commission, an initiative of the SFDA, was created through local legislation to:

  1. Analyze sentencing patterns and outcomes
  2. Advise the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and other City departments on the best approaches to reduce recidivism.
  3. Make recommendations for sentencing reforms that advance public safety and utilize best practices in criminal justice.

Multidepartment Representation

The commission, which launched in 2012, includes representation from the SFDA, Public Defender’s Office, Adult Probation Department, Juvenile Probation Department, Sheriff’s Department, Police Department, Department of Public Health, Reentry Council, Superior Court, nonprofits serving both victims and ex-offenders, a sentencing expert, and an academic researcher with expertise in data analysis.

Powers and Duties

As an official advisory body to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors, the powers and duties of the Sentencing Commission include:

  • Review and assess sentencing approaches locally and compare to other jurisdictions.
  • Review and assess the City’s capacity and utilization of services and alternatives to incarceration throughout the criminal justice continuum, including preadjudication and post-release.
  • Develop a recommended system of uniform definitions of recidivism for City departments to track and report on the outcomes of various criminal sentences and City programs meant to aid in reducing recidivism.
  • Develop data collection standards and recidivism reporting standards.
  • Make recommendations regarding changes that should be made to the Penal Code and any other state laws to remove barriers to effective implementation of best practices in criminal justice.
  • Facilitate trainings on best practices in sentencing for various criminal justice agencies.
  • Share information and work in collaboration with the Reentry Council

3 Working Groups

To date, the Sentencing Commission has reviewed a wide array of data and heard from experts on a range of issues, including: local, state and national sentencing trends and legislative reform, models for recidivism reduction, young adult offenders, drug law reform opportunities, and others. Currently, the commission has three working groups focused on the establishment of San Francisco’s Young Adult Court, the local replication of Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) model, and the creation of a common criminal justice system definition for recidivism (still accurate?). Ultimately, through this work, the commission will make recommendations that establish a sentencing system that retains meaningful judicial discretion, avoids unwarranted disparity, recognizes the most efficient and effective use of correctional resources, and provides a meaningful array of sentencing options.