The San Francisco County Jail lowered its population by about 38% from January to May 2020, beating the statewide reduction of 29% during the same period, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
The data shows the San Francisco jail maintained its lower percentages for longer.
“The principle of reducing incarceration is very much a part of this office’s mission,” said Rachel Marshall, communications director for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
A chief component of this shift comes from District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who pushed for a zero cash bail policy that has helped reduce the number of people held in custody while awaiting a court appearance.
Another strategy advocated by Boudin’s office has been to release those with 60 days or less left on their sentence for misdemeanor and nonviolent crimes. Some were placed in alternative housing and/or on probation.
“We were able to reduce that population much faster than we envisioned because the pandemic forced us to be under a pressure cooker,” said Marshall.
She credited Dr. Lisa Pratt, director of Jail Health Services, for helping implement policies to reduce the San Francisco jail population from 1,000 to 700 or 800 to allow for social distancing.
“This general approach and way of working is going to continue,” said Josie Halpern-Finnerty, director of the DA’s Safety and Justice Challenge project. “The DA’s office is going to individually determine whether someone should stay in custody and do so in a collaborative way.
“There’s no going back, only going forward.”