Criminal Justice

California prisoners end hunger strike after Bay Area legislators call hearings

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Bay Area legislators Tom Ammiano (D-SF) and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) — who chair the Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees, respectively — played pivotal roles in today’s decision by California prison inmates to end their hunger strike after 60 days.Read more »

California's refusal to reduce its prison population is a sign of deeper problems

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California just doesn’t get it when it comes to criminal justice. We have among the highest incarceration rates in the world (just below Russia's, and about four times the European average); our prisons eat up far too much of our state budget; they are shamefully overcrowded, secretive, and inhumane; yet politicians from Gov. Jerry Brown on down refuse to show the courage or leadership to try a different approach. Read more »

Changing the metaphor

How I went from a Three Strikes lifer to participant in California's criminal justice reform movement

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news@sfbg.com

With my partner-in-crime Keith Chandler at the wheel, we're driving through San Francisco on our way to Stanford University Law School for the Three Strikes Summit, a deeply personal topic to both of us. Three Strikes is partly why I served 15 years in prison, and Stanford's Three Strikes Project is a big reason why I was released earlier this year.Read more »

Life after the death penalty

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Tell me: Does any sane person really believe that the world would be a better and safer place if Rick Stevens had been executed by the state of California?

The guy was all fucked up on drugs when he shot three men. Horrible crime. He spent most of his adult life in prison. And now, at 72, he's out on the streets -- where the odds that he will ever hurt anyone again are infintessimally small.Read more »

Gascon, Adachi and conviction rates

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Public Defender Jeff Adachi just released his annual report, and it's impressive: According to the statistic his office complied, of the 60 felony trials handled by deputy public defenders, 62 percent resulted in acquittals or hung juries. That means that the office of District Attorney George Gascon has a trial conviction rate of just 38 percent when the DA's office is up against the PD's office.Read more »

Gascon skips valuable reform panel

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District Attorney George Gascon didn't show up for the town hall meeting that Sen. Mark Leno held on criminal justice reform last night. Gascon was scheduled to appear on a panel with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Chief Probation Officer Wendy Still, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and Police Chief Greg Suhr (who also didn't show, sending Commander John Murphy instead).Read more »

GUEST OPINION: The Mirkarimi case -- is this justice?

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I appreciate that everyone is doing his or her best to dialogue on the very complicated, nuanced and difficult issue of domestic violence in a context where the press and politicians are doing their best to use the issue for their own agenda and making it a very polarizing issue in the media. Read more »

Death penalty could go before California voters in November

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It appears that California voters will get a chance to abolish the death penalty this November, and that supporters of the proposed ballot measure will use mostly fiscal and public safety arguments to pick away at the majority of state residents that polls have shown still support capital punishment.Read more »

Progressives split on bag ban, ex-cons

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A couple of interesting votes at the Board of Supes Dec. 6. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi lost two pieces of legislation -- a mandate that stores charge for bags at checkout counters and a tax credit for companies that hire ex-offenders.Read more »