One Year After Realignment, San Francisco on its Way to Becoming a Model

September 27, 2012

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – District Attorney George Gascón and Chief Adult Probation Officer Wendy Still announced today that one year after Governor Brown signed into law the Public Safety Realignment Act, San Francisco is on its way to becoming a model for the state.
“As a former Police Chief and now District Attorney of San Francisco with over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, I know we cannot incarcerate our way out of the problem,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Realignment challenges us to think differently at a time when the criminal justice system is failing us. We can’t just realign the beds, we have to realign our thinking.”

“San Francisco’s shared values--including our unfailing belief in rehabilitation and commitment to ending the intergenerational cycle of incarceration—allowed us to implement realignment in a way that has protected public safety and public dollars,” said Chief Adult Probation Officer Wendy Still.

The District Attorney cited the state’s dismal 70% recidivism rate as an indicator of to approach realignment with a prevention model with the goals of public safety and reducing recidivism. With money from the state designated for realignment, the District Attorney’s Office hired Alternative Sentencing Planner Luis Aroche to help guide prosecutors’ sentencing decisions. Since Aroche was hired six months ago, the District Attorney’s Office is already seeing a shift in the office’s sentencing decisions. He has reviewed one-third of the over 1100 Realignment cases the District Attorney’s Office has received and conducted an in-depth investigation on 50 of these cases making recommendations such as community service, outpatient treatment, residential treatment and anger management.

With the District Attorney Gascón leadership and in partnership with Adult Probation Chief Still, San Francisco held its first inaugural meeting of the Sentencing Commission last month. The commission is the first county level Sentencing Commission in the country to evaluate our sentencing practices. The goal of the commission is to establish and maintain an effective, fair, and efficient sentencing system for San Francisco that enhances public safety and creates a livable San Francisco. The District Attorney sees the Sentencing Commission as proposing real change to Sacramento and implementing changes in our own local practices within the latitude of current law.

Over the course of the next two years the Sentencing Commission will evaluate effective and appropriate sentences for the most violent offenders, explore opportunities for drug law reform, examine inconstancies in the penal code related to realignment sentencing, and identify and define the most important factors that reduce recidivism.

San Francisco has demonstrated excellence in its use of criminal justice strategies that resulted in focusing resources on our most violent offenders, holding those offenders accountable, and restoring victims and communities. The successful implantation of criminal justice realignment is due to a local partnership committed to its success.

Wendy Still, Chief Adult Probation Officer and chair of the Executive Committee of the Community Corrections Partnership, cites the collaborations across City/County Departments and Community based partners as essential to San Francisco’s realignment success. “It has been only through these rich partnerships that we have been able to make community corrections the hub of our local response. Other partners of the Executive Committee include the Court, the District Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff, Chief of Police, and Director of Public Health. The Courts, Mayor and Board of Supervisors have been extremely supportive of our efforts to effectively implement realignment and contribute significantly to the positive results that we are realizing.”

The San Francisco Adult Probation Department and partners will be releasing a comprehensive report on the impact of realignment in these first 12 months. The report will be presented to the Community Corrections Partnership at its next meeting on November 29th. The public is encouraged to join. For complete details, please contact the Adult Probation Department at (415) 553-1687.