To Correct and Promote
Killer inaccuracies: I write to correct dangerous inaccuracies put forth in John Geluardi's SF Weekly blog item [“San Francisco Police Department Can't Stop Homicides,” The Snitch, 11/6]. Here are the facts your readers deserve to know.
By year's end, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office will have sent more defendants to state prison than in any prior year since 1996. In just one year, from 2007 to 2008, we've secured a 30 percent increase in state prison commitments. Moreover, the San Francisco Superior Court reports that the District Attorney's Office now has the highest annual prosecution rate for any year since 1995. Today, the overall conviction rate is 78 percent. With regard to homicide cases, our office charges 87 percent of the homicide arrests brought to us by the San Francisco Police Department. Our office has secured a 90 percent conviction rate in these homicide cases since 2004.
Our office has also strengthened our prosecution of gun cases. Upon taking office, District Attorney [Kamala] Harris instituted a policy requiring our attorneys to advocate for jail or prison time in every single gun case. Since that time, our office has more than doubled the gun crime conviction rate, from 43 percent in 2003 to 92 percent in 2007.
Reliance on FBI clearance rates does provide a complete analysis of homicide investigations, which generally take longer than one year — and often several — to investigate. To suggest that the clearance rate for 2007 represents a complete picture of the police department's response to 2007 homicides is not accurate or fair.
Our assistant district attorneys work tirelessly to prosecute crime in San Francisco, and we appreciate the intense work of the police department to protect victims and get predators off our streets. Reporting accurate information about the work of the criminal justice system is a key part of promoting public safety and keeping our streets safe.
Members of the community also go to great lengths to assist in the administration of justice. By serving as jurors and coming forward when they are victimized by crime or witnesses to it, residents play an important role in holding offenders accountable. They deserve the facts, not fiction.
Erica Terry Derryck
Acting Communications Director
San Francisco District Attorney
John Geluardi responds: Harris' PR representative's response included a great deal of information that has little association to my original blog item. While it may be true that the DA's office has marginally increased conviction rates over the last several years, the fact remains that convictions have been below the state average. In 2006, Harris' office was responsible for a 58 percent overall conviction rate. However, in 2005, Los Angeles County had a conviction rate of 72.2 percent, Santa Clara County 86.4 percent, and Alameda County 74.5 percent.
Taking a stand on sitting down: Thanks to Joe Eskenazi for reflecting my thoughts well [“Take the Rude Train,” Sucka Free City, 11/12]. One thing I do want to point out is that I went into the “experiment” not expecting to be offered a seat.
Even before I got pregnant, I had observed, through plenty of years on BART, how pregnant women, elderly, and disabled passengers are treated. Yes, I know pregnant women aren't legally entitled to these seats — I completely understand and respect that — but if a pregnant woman looks to be obviously struggling to balance as the train stops and goes, it's disheartening that not one single person would offer his or her seat!
I held on to the safety poles tightly, and I was fine most of the time on my own. I never felt entitled to a seat, let me make that clear: I was simply testing and observing. I was hoping that someone would prove me wrong, but alas, that did not happen. Maybe I was just on the wrong train.
Author of Bart Musings blog