tv [untitled] December 3, 2013 3:30am-4:01am PST
i'm wondering professor if you can context lies this discussion historically and whether or not there has ever been a large or successful movement in this state towards the elimination of money bail? >> now you are going stump me by starting off with an empirical question i can't answer. first i'm very honored to be here with plenty of officials. i have tenure so let me be blunt. we are speaking about building a system which we call mass incarceration. we have many of people who don't need to be locked up and that is to provide public safety. that's one of the reasons i see bail as so critical. it's not a sexy topic. it's one of the
reasons it's languaged for decades. it's really the beginning that leads to incarceration and i would suggest to you that what happens beginning with the failure of the bail reform effort of 60s to achieve a constitutional right to bail. i would like to come back to that because if the constitutional rights can find to incarcerate, they can talk about bail. i think what is so dangerous about that moment and it came to a surface in the bail reform act of 1984, the federal law, the birth of preventative detention which one thought was clearly unconstitutional and then became a public good that changed the whole view of a
system. now we live in a justice preemptive justice, but they will commit other crimes in the future. i would say if we all now agree or at least many of us agree with justice kennedy that the result has been a prison system that is barbaric that doesn't belong in a civilized society and serious atonement and i think you would recognize in the california prisons to meet that. let me say why it's a risk. it's always so reasonable to see risk as a way on out of these. i don't think i need to remind those in the room that an entire population were incarcerated for risk. nobody was held accountable for it
violence. maybe an armed robbery or sexual assault of some kind. are you comfortable with someone having a right to be released on their own recognizant under the theory that the police should do their work and make sure that person doesn't commit other offenses? and that it's not legitimate to make that consideration at the time of a bail assessment? >> i think that is my view, i think through slow steps we accumulated a system that has a ton of minor offenders and not able to accused in that way. and the right of the constitution and the rights we have made up for the mistakes made. we have to toss out the low-level crimes not just in the city but many parts of the
state. and with that bandwidth of focus, we focus on the areas and a activity and crime and less on locking people up. in either case we are punishing the people ahead of their trial. after all 3% of americans receive a trial at this point. in what we like to think as our justice system that's a moderate risk system that i think has failed. >> let me ask our law enforcement officials, mirkarimi and george gascón, do you agree with professor simon? could we have a system that didn't like to the likelihood of reoffense or what the charge is or looked whether or not someone is coming back to court.
>> go ahead. >> yes, i was referencing earlier there has to be stakeholders all the page. and for the sheriff department to reclassify and allow someone to be released, pretrialed, supervi supervised and that's high majority of the time. but if there was criteria charged and not just based on discretion of the sheriff or the district attorney. but the criteria to reconfigure
and acknowledge so it's a part of law in the city and county of san francisco. that to me affirms our commitment to what this experiment would look like. to make a product of the discretionary act by those elected. so goes with that experiment the tentativeness of what this commitment would actually be. why is why -- which is why i would like to see what the mayor's office and board of supervisors to look at those forms of discipline and what they look like to us. >> i recognize the fear -- and i think it's a fear, not even a concern that professor simon has creating an assessment tool that can be manipulated for low-level offenses or drug offenses that can end up like the impact much
like we have today with the commercial bail system. but i believe there is a way that we can create validated risk assessment tools that would look at the areas of concern. whether we are talking about the likelihood for reoffending in a violent way or the likelihood of not showing up in court. i think there are systems in place that show a tremendous amount of promise. and we can continue to go down that path to create that tool to avoid to the greatest extent possible picking on those things that frankly large people are incarcerated in the past and still in many cases. and taking those away. and looking at the real risk. we know there are some people for a variety of reasons that will be inherently violent. and for those people, unfortunately the only thing that is going to work at that point in time is going to be
incapacitation. and there is the ability to predict that with a high degree of certainty and still move away from factors are focusing on someone's race or gender. i believe those are valid tools that can be developed and there is a lot of knowledge base on that. and it's important for us to look at the possibility of skipping your due date in court. i think part of the validity and credibility of the court system is based on people agreeing to show up. and again there are many factors and many based on evidence that is proven by people that are likely to come back court and show up and people who are not. clearly service is the kind of service that could take somebody right on the edge and they could make all the difference in the
world. and we should focus and put those people in the services. again we can create a risk assessment tool that would place to have pretrial service and ensure that person will return. i don't believe that risk assessment is exclusive with fairness, but i fully understand your concern. clearly the system is not one that gives a lot of comfort. but i don't think we should be precluded moving forward, especially in a community like ours we have a tremendous opportunity for inspiration and the will to do so and do it right. and to continue to set the trail and show this can be done and done thoughtfully. >> sheriff mirkarimi.
i . i want to add the effect that last year in 2012 we immoralized the sheriff department taking over bail. because of the stress of the court system that can no longer process the bail due to the budget hits that the court system was taking. and we took a snapshot of over 2500 transactions in 2012. that comes to $23 million. and coming through us the process is that you pay your assurity or your entire bail. going through the bailbonds industry that 10% represents $10 million. >> let me make an announcement that we will take questions from the audience. if you want to ask one, there are cards that you can signal to amy who will hand you one.
we would love to hear your questions. mrs. dewitt, it's been a while since you had the podium or the mic. there has been a lot said, i am wondering when you hear this talk about eliminating money bail system. is this something that can realistically happen or were we able to achieve that, there would be a move to reinstate what your organization does? >> let me first off thank you, matt, let me first say i feel like a minority among the panel. but i am not overwhelmed by it. i think we have a little misconception here and what we forget all along, the public, the taxpayers. the bail industry provides a service to the criminal justice
system and has here in the united states. we do this without cost of the taxpayers. none of this burden is on the taxpayers. and what i see happening, and i have had discussions with the aclu and pretrial on. it's not a cookie-cutter situation. bail is very personal. to have a policy or government entity responsible for arresting you and adjudicating your case and the sentencing and bail. there no check balances involved in this. i have sat in los angeles and waiting for the sheriff department for a gentleman that had to get to his job or lose his job. and 36 hours later he's still in custody when he could have been bailed out through corporate
bail. our industry brings to the state of california revenues in excess of 11 to $20 million to state revenues. and what i am hearing is that this movement is to chop us off completely. and i say no. we need to co-exist. there is a place for corporate charity bail and pretrial. but until the last year we really have not been invited to the table. and this kind of dialogue is very important. you need to hear what we have to say. and there is a misconception that gps monitoring, who is going to pay for that? the taxpayers or the defendant? generally i hear the models the defendant, does he want to go to work with a leg monitor on his leg or security bond. you are innocent until proven guilty. and the other thing about the
pre-trial incarceration figures. they are not there because the family can't release the money. and it's hard to get the numbers, the transparency is not there on pretrial release figures. but these people are in custody and they -- you know i lost my train of thought. that's a senior moment. i was going to make a good point and i apologize. >> let me go to your neighbor, because i want to actually find out if you are in the minority. mrs. mccracken, does your organization support the election of money bail? or are you focused on other reforms? >> we are focused on other reforms. we advocate for the expansion or the implementation of pretrial services. there is great demand for that across the state of california.
the criminal justice institute has been just recently awarded only two counties. technical assistance services in implementing pretrial services. but the demand was from 20 counties to have those services. so there is a great interest from california counties to look at this deliberate intervention to reapproach the criminal justice system. and san francisco and santa cruc county are examples. and they are both counties that had over-crowded jails. and the administrators made a deliberate attempt such as pre-trial services to change their system. and i think it has allowed san
francisco and santa cruz to be ahead of the game. when realignment hits, you are better prepared to manage this increased responsibility. i think there are two case studies that we can look to and look for peer support from our local justice administrators to help other counties implement such services. >> mr. deong, would you address mr. simon's question of the tool that could have a discriminatory component. >> i want to add in there, thank you, matt, to add to what the district attorney is saying. we are currently evaluating our instrument and the half of dozen factors includes a current charge, felony, and the unemployed, drug abuse and having an opinion case.
which i think is perhaps much different than say 10 years ago. and we are validating this information now in terms of comparing it to the mounds of data we have, if anything, any volunteer researchers out there. who want -- it really requires a lot of work and scrutiny. but i think it echoes what the district attorney is saying. we are mindful of the jails have been disproportionately african-american, hispanic, we are mindful the fact it's been really poor folks we have been dealing with. and it's obviously that our basis, our history is coming from the social service side. but i want to reiterate that those are the factors that the risk assessment tool is starting to look at and zeroing in on pretrial release. >> professor simon, historically
ini in california was this a right-to-bail movement at one time? >> i wouldn't call it a movement. bail has existed on the surface. in the 60s and 70s at the time of due process for the prisoners. and professor foot turned to bail in the 50s. and argued that there was bail in california in the 60s. i can't say there was a grass root movement but when you look at that movement to warehouse people in mental hospitals, and shall initiatives. the state was looking to break down these very discriminatory patterns that focused on certain communities. there is a moment of that.
but it was caught up in the fear of crime. i am old enough to remember in the 70s as the homicide rate continued to go up. and something has to be done but we throw it under the bus for risk prevention and poverty is -- and race are to be changed by proactive measure. >> let me take a question from the audience, professor simon, money system often taps the relatives assets. and then the relatives are motivated to help locate the fugitives. what would motivate them to rat
out of fugitives. in other words what the question is getting at, sometimes having to post bail can cause the community around the accused to get involved in their life and take an active role of the charges. or if you have a situation of a fugitive to get involved? >> i like the idea of community engagement and to lower the risk and that someone can benefit from the system. i would like to see evidence that taking someone's home will incentivize them to help them lock their son up. it might. but it my be incentivize detectives to be defenders but
not to tie assets to it. >> i want to address the financial taking of someone's property and that's the norm of the bail industry. that is not, i have been in the system for 41 years and never taken one home. we do rely on our detective skills and our bounty hunter skills to get the defendant and get them back in custody. that's what we are good at. the involvement of friends and workers and co-workers, all that is used. our risk assessment tool has been very effective. i don't think that creating an atmosphere that will do away with corporate bail is the answer. it's not. we have to work with the pretrial system and law enforcement and judicial system, we are a part of it and i see we
will be a part of it for years. >> we got a second question, i am going to ask it. if someone qualifies for release isn't inherently unfair that this person remains incarcerated because of the inability to post bail. i guess if someone qualifies for release, they don't have to post bail. are there instances where someone -- let me ask it differently. i have been in court where a judge charged them with a crime and could see a release. but maybe other issues going on. maybe barefooted and don't have a place they are living. and maybe get someone like you willie, in your organization involved and supervisor. is that appropriate? or is that violating someone's
right not to have the oversight of the court and criminal justice system? will? >> how supervisor retrial came about was really in jail overcrowding. there are cases where, specific cases, getting a homeless individual. there are a group of case managers called court accountable homeless services. it targets homeless individuals. and mental health cases have been common. traditionally cases that the court is looking for supervision, but again as you might imagine the resources are severely taxed. and during the budget difficulties in the last years, the ability to manage large numbers. we are talking for example,
homeless individuals, we see 30 individuals at any one given time. that's the active case load and it's driven by that. >> i have a question from the public defender for the law enforcement officials here. what reforms can you commit to at this point to reduce pretrial detention population? shall we start with sheriff mirkarimi or the district attorney? >> i will reiterate that the strategy that i think san francisco should seriously consider legislate a new criteria. that's what the penal code has empowered us to do. we could start right away by corralling a number of
legislators and city hall to get behind this effort completely. and i suggest budgetary wise pretrial as will represents is not funded enough. frankly. and our ability to i think really discharge in a supervised capacity so there is an alternative to incarceration is something that the city should put on a higher pecking order. since it costs about $50,000 a year to incarcerate somebody. when i look at the collaborative court models. when we look at the pretrial supervisory models we are talking about here. they are really a fraction of the cost. and i don't think we have that on system down as fluidly we would like, i think many of these are eligible for that program.
and that requires pretrial to staff and have expanded population. >> george, we will give you the last word, we are pretty much at our time. >> we are underway, the reality that several of us here are members of the sensoring commission, including our public defender, mrs. mccracken and sheriff mirkarimi and myself. and this is an effort that started last year, the goal is a two-year process to look for sentencing reform and looking at best practices to determine what is appropriate. and certainly pretrial detention is part of the mix. i go back to what i said earlier, i believe that pretrial custody should be based on appropriate -- and i want to underline appropriate, risk assessment tools. that will be race neutral. that will be gender neutral. that will be socially neutral.
but assess risk, risk of violence, risk of not showing up for court. i believe that, that is an achievable goal. and i believe that the sentencing commission is a really good place. we have excellent resources at our disposal. we have a two-year plan. and we have basically every component of the general system and the community in this process. i hope we will come up with a pretrial releasing process. >> i want to thank all panelists for participating. and thank you all for attending. [applause] i think our public defender will make some closing remarks. >> in closing i want to thank all of you for attending this
year's justice summit. as you heard we have many challeng challenges in areas to improve upon. we look for your support. we will continue through this year, and for more information about the gideon case or activities in your area, visit gideonslegacy.org. and we be posting more information on our website. and ask the public defender through this year. and i want to invite you a special event on may 9, sister helen rajeem will be here, and she's well