Throughout the criminal justice system in San Francisco African-Americans are over-represented, from numbers of arrests to convictions, to the number of those sentenced to prison. The disparity between blacks and other races is growing significantly, as a study by the San Francisco Reentry Council recently found.
The study shows that the rates of incarceration and arrest between blacks and whites are not even comparable. The study found that black people are 7.1 times more likely to be arrested in San Francisco than whites, while they are 11 times more likely to be booked into jail and 10.3 times more likely to be convicted. Compared to whites, when blacks are convicted, they spend more time on probation and in jail.
The report comes after attention has been drawn to the racial inequality in the criminal justice system across the country. Such racial issues are only part of a panoply of issues including the killings of several unarmed African-Americans by police. Thousands of criminal cases in San Francisco from the past 10 years are under review following the release of racial and homophobic text messages sent between more than a dozen San Francisco police officers.
There is obvious bias that is at work when the justice system treats people of color, undermines their ability of those treated unequally to be successful and prevents them from living a normal life.
This study has shown how there has been a growth of minorities in the San Francisco courts and the jail system, much more than the past two decades—despite the fact that crime rates have reduced across all demographics. In 1994, for every white person arrested, 4.6 black people were taken into custody by police in San Francisco. In 2013, that number increased to 7.1. Even though African-Americans only represented 6 percent of the city's adult population, they comprised 40 percent of those arrested.
The report makes it evident that racial profiling exists within the criminal justice system in San Francisco. San Francisco has fallen behind other places in state in closing the racial equality gap.
San Francisco's Police Chief Greg Suhr claims that many socioeconomic factors are the cause of those inflated numbers for Blacks. However, racial profiling is clearly the cause of those incarcerated and needs to be stopped. Police officers and law enforcement need to better protect people of color as well as enforce the laws fairly. This year alone, we have seen several shootings of unarmed black men by law enforcement. It has gotten out of control. Police officers are not afforded enough training. The justice system here is in need of a major reform and it needs to be done immediately. More importantly, there has remained a culture of racism in the criminal justice system for years.