Legislative Analyst Report - Processing 'Quality of Life' Violations
LEGISLATIVE ANALYST REPORT
TO: The Honorable Board of Supervisors
FROM: Elaine Forbes, Legislative Analyst
Emily Gumper, Policy Intern
DATE: May 15, 2002
ISSUE: Processing "Quality of Life" Violations
Summary and Scope of Request
A motion passed by the Board (File 065-01) requests that the Office of the Legislative Analyst (OLA) report on best practices for integrating social services into the processing of quality of life offenses. The request also asks the OLA to investigate current costs and methods for processing persons charged with quality of life offenses in San Francisco County. In response, this report describes the status quo methods and, where available, associated costs. This report also considers how social services currently are and might best be linked with San Francisco"s system for processing persons charged with quality of life law offenses. As such, this report does not tackle the larger question of whether criminal justice sanctions and social services ought to be linked in practice or whether these behaviors ought to be criminalized.1 Rather, this report considers best practices for linking social service access to police and court processing of quality of life offenses.
According to members of San Francisco"s law enforcement and social service communities, a significant number of persons charged with "quality of life" offenses2 in San Francisco are homeless individuals, many of whom are "chronically homeless" and have substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Since in many cases the behaviors quality of life laws target may be manifestations of root problems such as drug and alcohol addiction or mental illness, referral to social services may have a greater impact on recidivism than police and court processing alone.
San Francisco"s current system for processing quality of life law violators involves ticketing for infractions and processing cases at the Superior Court"s Traffic Division or processing misdemeanor offenses through Misdemeanor Court. Statistics from San Francisco Superior Court for 2000 indicate that the majority of citations for quality of life infractions sampled go unpaid and a large portion of quality of life misdemeanor citations sampled result in cases being discharged or dismissed.3 While there are social service linkages at several points in the processing path of these infractions and misdemeanors, most of these linkages are available primarily to misdemeanants as opposed to infraction violators. Additionally, some social service and court alternative options are available primarily to persons with mailing addresses and may not be accessible to the homeless population. In short, San Francisco"s current system for processing persons charged with quality of life offenses may provide little incentive for those cited to pay ticket fines or appear in court and does not uniformly link defendants with social services. Consequently, the current system may not best address recidivism.
Two models for incorporating social service options into quality of life violation processing, a community court model bearing some similarity to that already used in San Francisco for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses and a "street outreach model," are presented for consideration below. The suitability of these models for implementation in San Francisco is a policy issue for discussion.
State and San Francisco municipal "quality of life" laws prohibit such behaviors as aggressive panhandling, public inebriation, encampment, and obstructing sidewalks.4 Some of these behaviors constitute infraction violations in San Francisco and as such are punishable by fines and are not jailable offenses. Some quality of life offenses are misdemeanors under the State Penal Code, including 647(f), Public Intoxication5, and repeat offenses of most municipal code quality of life infractions constitute misdemeanor violations. In cases in which State and municipal codes differ as to whether an offense is an infraction or misdemeanor, discretion may be used at the beat, rebooking and court levels in determining charges. An examination of 2000 Superior Court disposition statistics for processing of sampled infraction and misdemeanor violations indicates that the majority of persons ticketed for quality of life infractions fail to pay fines or appear in court and a large number of misdemeanor citations result in cases being discharged or dismissed.
Infractions Processing. "Citations issued for infraction violations are processed by the Superior Court"s Traffic Division located in Room 101 at the Hall of Justice. An individual charged with an infraction is not entitled to a trial by jury and is not entitled to be represented by court-appointed counsel at public expense. Citations issued for infractions are submitted to the court for filing and processing by the issuing law enforcement agencies. Upon receipt, citation information is entered into the court"s computer system for processing. Within 10 days of entry, a courtesy notice is generated and sent to the violator at the address indicated on the citation. The courtesy notice informs the violator that he or she has the option to pay the posted bail or schedule a court hearing to protest the citation. The violator is further advised that failure to submit bail or appear at a hearing will result in a warrant being issued for his or her arrest. Violators who schedule a hearing to protest a citation appear before a court commissioner. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court commissioner issues a decision which could include a fine, a suspended sentence, dismissal or acquittal."6 Warrants may be issued for persons who fail to pay the fine or schedule a hearing. Bench warrants issue for persons who fail to appear for a scheduled hearing. Lieutenant Joe Dutto noted that police officers do generally make arrests on bench warrants for infractions and misdemeanors, although in cases involving bench warrants for outstanding fines on, for example, $100 tickets, officers use discretion in determining whether to arrest. According to the Sheriff"s Department Chief of Staff Eileen Hirst, the Sheriff"s Department must as a matter of law hold persons brought in on bench warrants until their court appearance.
Superior Court Traffic Division records for 2000 indicate that fines were fully paid in approximately 7% of infraction cases sampled7, new warrants issued in approximately 29%, and roughly 64% of these infraction cases were finally adjudicated, meaning that they were sent to court.8 Court records show that approximately 6% of the 11,957 citations for Consuming Alcoholic Beverages in Public (MPC 21, the most frequently used quality of life law) infraction violations in 2000 resulted in fines being fully paid. In 28% of cases, new warrants were issued, meaning that the person did not pay the fine or schedule a court hearing. Another 65% of these infractions were "finally adjudicated." Distributions of disposition outcomes for other quality of life infractions were similar to those for MPC 21.9 Although the Court does not have data on different outcomes within the "finally adjudicated" category, John Stokes, Assistant Division Chief of the Superior Court Traffic Division, said that in most of these cases the violators did not appear in court. In some cases attorneys working pro bono appear on behalf of a number of violators and cases are dismissed, according to Stokes; literally thousands of outstanding "quality of life" warrants have been dismissed by court orders.10 Outstanding warrants dismissed by court orders account for a significant number of infractions cases in the "finally adjudicated" category.
Misdemeanor Processing. Persons arrested for new misdemeanors that are non-violent in nature are generally released from custody with a signed promise to appear in court, although they may occasionally kept in custody. When persons fail to appear in court, a bench warrant may be issued. Persons with bench warrants for their arrest may be taken into custody and a judge"s permission is required for release unless the person pays bail. Decisions about filing charges on misdemeanor citations are at the discretion of the District Attorney"s office. Judith Garvey, who handles quality of life rebooking for the Misdemeanors Division, noted that whether or not a person is charged on an individual offense depends on the circumstances, but repeat offenses are more likely prosecuted. Garvey keeps track of quality of life offense police reports so that charges can be filed in repeat offense cases.11 If the offender has a mailing address, Garvey will often send the case to Community Court through California Community Dispute Services.12
Disposition outcomes for misdemeanor quality of life violations sampled for 2000 indicate that most cases were either dismissed after court proceedings or discharged for a variety of reasons. In 2000, 157 Public Intoxication (647(f)) misdemeanor cases were disposed. Court records show that in 31% of these 647(f) cases, the offender was released when sober under section 849(b) of the State Penal Code.13 Of the remaining 108 cases disposed, 80 were discharged by the District Attorney prior to court proceedings for a variety of reasons,14 18 were dismissed after court proceedings on either Court or D.A. motion (at least two completed pretrial diversion), and two resulted in County jail sentences. Disposition outcomes for the other offenses sampled were similar.15
Sally Pina of the Research and Planning Division at the San Francisco Superior Court estimates Superior Court processing costs associated with "quality of life" citations in the year 2000 at $4.10 per case. Since most persons cited for quality of life infractions and misdemeanors never appear in Court, associated Court processing costs for a typical quality of life infraction or misdemeanor case can be arrived at by determining the cost of Court Staff time spent entering relevant information in the computer and processing and forwarding a bench warrant.16 Total estimated processing costs where cases are assumed to be typical amounted to $77,900 in 2000.
In fiscal year 2000-2001, the District Attorney"s office spent approximately $237,493 dollars processing quality of life infractions and $79,593 processing quality of life misdemeanors.17 The combined amount, $317,086, represents 16.2% of the Final Consolidated Budget expenditures for Misdemeanor Prosecution in the District Attorney"s Office ($1,952,317).
Status Quo Social Service and Alternative Sentencing Options
Opportunities for social service linkage exist at numerous points in the processing of quality of life violations: the police beat level, in custody (where relevant, for misdemeanor offenses), at the point of review by the District Attorney, and through the court.18 Most social service and alternative sentencing options available to persons cited for quality of life offenses are available at the misdemeanor and not the infractions level. Community Court options are currently available to persons with mailing addresses only.
Beat level. The main Police Department program that provides social service access to quality of life offense violators is the San Francisco Campaign Against Drug Abuse (SFCADA) program, which is partially funded by the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. CADA offers violators of Sec. 11550 of the California Health and Safety Code ("Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance") access to treatment in lieu of citations for 11550 violations. Plainclothes officers with training in drug influence recognition patrol target areas in the Mission, Tenderloin, Park, and Northern districts. Officers identify persons under the influence of drugs (generally heroin or crack), and give them the option of either accompanying the officers to a community treatment center19 or being booked for a violation of 11550. According to Inspectors Bob Hernandez and George Nazzal, who have headed the program since its inception 3 years ago, most persons contacted opt for the citation.20 Hernandez and Nazzal estimate that in the two years since CADA began its work on the streets, CADA has made 1,200 contacts with persons under violation of 11550. Of these 1,200 violators contacted, 150 have agreed to go into treatment. Five treatment slots are available each time CADA goes on patrol (two or three times a month), but these slots are not generally filled. Hernandez and Nazzal attribute SFCADA"s treatment acceptance rate in part to the fact that the legal alternatives "have no teeth"; they also suggested that having a comfortable interim location in which to give offenders the treatment vs. citation option would have a positive effect on the program"s success rates.21 Hernandez and Nazzal stated that their experience indicated that there is a large overlap between the addict and homeless populations.22
Jail level. Social services provided by Jail Health Services (funded by the Department of Public Health) generally serve persons who stay in custody longer than do most persons charged with quality of life offenses. Jo Robinson, Program Director for Jail Psychiatric Services with the Sheriff"s Department, described several jail programs that aim to provide access to social services to offenders. Jail Health Services has a staff of four Discharge Planners who meet with offenders prior to release and attempt to link them with needed social services. Many offenders in custody for Public Intoxication/Drinking In Public do not meet with Discharge Planners, as they are most often released after several hours when sober. Robinson indicated that due to the brief stay in custody for many persons charged with quality of life offenses, there is not enough time to work with these people on community placement.
Routine mental illness screenings occur during jail intake and some of those screened are referred to Jail Psychiatric Services where a thorough evaluation is done and medications and other therapies are prescribed as needed. Approximately 10 mentally ill people charged with misdemeanors each year are determined through Jail Psychiatric Services to be too impaired to stand trial.
In 1998 State legislation established the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant Program, under which San Francisco County programs have received two different grants. The first MIOCR grant funded San Francisco County"s Forensic Support System, which oversees psychiatric assessments, treatment planning and case management for mentally ill offenders. This grant also provided funding for a Psychiatric Liaison to the District Attorney, Public Defender, Judge, and Adult Probation Department for clients of the Forensic Support System. The Connections Program, funded by the second wave of MIOCR grants, works with the Pretrial Diversion Project and the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice as part of the Sheriff"s Department"s Supervised Misdemeanor Release Program to get mentally ill offenders into community care and out of custody. The Connections Program provides case management for mentally ill offenders, assists offenders in reclaiming entitlements after being in custody, and connects clients with treatment and education opportunities as well as with temporary housing.
The Sheriff"s Department has beds available through the Connections Program at 44 McAllister through the Mentally Ill Offenders program but does not have beds available on release for non-mentally ill homeless persons. Transitional housing is available as part of services provided to HIV positive clients on release from San Francisco County Jail through Continuum"s new Homebase program.
District Attorney/Court level. Most alternative sentencing and social service options at the court level for persons cited with quality of life law violations are available to misdemeanants and not infractions violators. Eligible persons charged with misdemeanors are referred by the District Attorney"s Office to the Pretrial Diversion Project. Some non-violent misdemeanor cases may be eligible for appearance in one of San Francisco"s Community Courts, run by California Community Dispute Services.23
According to Thom Bateman of California Community Dispute Services, the following are examples of some of the many types of cases San Francisco Community Courts frequently see: shoplifting, disturbing the peace, marijuana possession, vandalism below $400, trespassing, battery with no or minor injuries, and sale of alcohol/tobacco to minor (first offense). Defendants are determined to be eligible for Community Court by the District Attorney"s office and then referred to the PreTrial Diversion Project for program development and placement. Since only persons charged with misdemeanors are eligible for the PreTrial Diversion Project"s program, the majority of persons cited for quality of life offenses are not eligible for Community Court.24
Bateman says that on average roughly 20 cases per month come through each of San Francisco"s 5 existing community courts (OMI, Bayview, Western Addition, Ingleside, and Mission; one more is planned to open this summer). Community Court sentencing possibilities include counseling, community service, fines or restitution, or case dismissal.
Bateman pointed out that the design of the Community Court process aims at offenders who are not homeless, as notice of hearings is sent by mail. Finally, Bateman emphasized the importance of bearing in mind that the Community Court option is voluntary and that the Community Court has no control over enforcement of its sentence recommendations (it reports these recommendations to the PreTrial Diversion Project).
According to Dee Dee Rodriguez, Director of Program Services for the PreTrial Diversion Project, persons charged with infractions are not eligible for the PreTrial Diversion program, and misdemeanor quality of life offenses make up a "small percentage" of PreTrial Diversion cases (the most common cases involve theft). PreTrial Diversion Project"s case management staff monitors client participation in diversion programs by, for example, providing transportation to personal service appointments. Many of PreTrial Diversion Project"s clients are homeless; case managers assist clients in securing housing (by helping with section 8 paperwork, for example). Rodriguez emphasized that successful integration of court system and social services must focus on individual clients rather than institutions. According to Rodriquez, a substantive case management system is more likely to benefit clients than a referral system alone.
As recently as June 2001, the PreTrial Diversion Project ran a Quality of Life Program for which persons cited with quality of life infractions (and not just misdemeanors) were eligible.25 This program offered fine alternative options in the form of "personal service" (such as detox service or life skills classes) and community service. The program, which ran for about 18 months, saw 300 cases. Roughly 75% of participants finished the program successfully, with 60% completing community services and 40% completing personal service programs. Half of those with personal service needs had substance abuse service needs. Will Leong, Executive Director of the PreTrial Diversion Project, noted that these statistics reveal the difficulty of generalizing across the population of quality of life offenders-not all offenders have personal service needs. According to Leong, persons charged with infraction violations, while perhaps representing the lowest level criminal justice priority, may have the highest service needs.
The Center for Juvenile Justice and Criminal runs two custody release programs that apply to persons arrested on bench warrants for misdemeanors, the Supervised Misdemeanor Release Program and the Homeless Release Project. The Supervised Misdemeanor Release Program makes recommendations to judges for release of eligible misdemeanants and works with clients to ensure they comply with the terms of their release. The CJCJ reports that 85% of program participants attend their court dates. The Homeless Release Project was initiated in 1996 to provide similar services to homeless persons (the Supervised Misdemeanor Release Program was unable to case manage persons without verifiable addresses). The Homeless Release Project focuses on misdemeanants and has the capacity to case manage 44 cases at a time (there are often many more people in custody eligible for the program). According to Alissa Riker, Director of Jail Services at CJCJ, the Courts want the Homeless Release Project to take some clients in custody for quality of life offenses only, while HRP prefers to serve those charged with non quality-of-life crimes. Riker, while in favor of alternatives to normal court prosecution, expressed worries that community court systems may be used to widen the net of the criminal justice system and redescribe public health and social problems as criminal justice issues. She thinks there should be more emphasis (and resources allocated) to social service outreach programs, where, for example, drug treatment workers who manage waitlists at treatment centers also go out into the community and do outreach with clients.
A central difficulty surrounding the effective processing of quality of life law violators is the limited extent to which the legal system provides disincentive to potential offenders. Furthermore, even if existing legal resources were used more aggressively (so that, for example, repeat offenders were carefully tracked and charged with misdemeanors whenever possible), the current processing system by itself would not address the underlying issues that may result in some of the behaviors the laws target. Other jurisdictions have integrated social services more seamlessly into processing of quality of life violations via community court systems and street outreach collaboration between police officers and social service workers.
Surveys of several community court systems show lower failure-to-appear rates for persons charged with quality of life offenses in these courts than in San Francisco"s Superior Court.
Connecticut"s Community Court system, which has courts in Hartford and Waterbury, targets non-violent misdemeanor cases that burdened the docket in the regular court system prior to the Community Court"s inception. All defendants who are brought in for arraignment and agree to the Community Court venue are referred to the department of Social Services for an assessment of mental health, substance abuse, housing and financial issues. At the next court date, the judge receives this assessment and orders community service. Defendants are turned over to community service contractors and begin service within that day or the next. If the defendant is determined to be in need of treatment for substance abuse or mental health issues, these would be mandated to be completed before the community service sentence.
Robyn Oliver, Program Manager for the Connecticut Court Support Services Division, noted that the criminal justice landscape in Connecticut, where all non-motor vehicle related offenses are either misdemeanors or felonies, is markedly different than that in San Francisco. Oliver indicated that a relatively small percentage of the people seen in Hartford"s and Waterbury"s Community Courts are homeless. Prostitution and larceny cases make up a considerable part of the caseload, and San Francisco quality of life infractions and misdemeanors such as public inebriation, public urination, obstruction of sidewalks are prosecuted as breach of peace, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, trespass, and public indecency misdemeanors. A committee made up of neighborhood leaders, community court judges labor organizations, and police meets regularly to identify community service projects and areas that might benefit from being patrolled more closely.
In November 2001, 842 new cases were referred to Community Court in Connecticut and 20 were left from the previous month. In 490 of these cases, the defendant successfully completed his or her community court sentence, while only 25 failed to appear altogether. Oliver ascribes this low failure-to-appear rate to the fact that in Connecticut, custodial arrests are made on warrants issued for failure to appear. Oliver attributed the overall success of the Community Court system in Connecticut to the integration of the courtroom, social service providers, and the non-profit that runs community service program in one location
Discussions with Robyn Gregory, Community Court Project Coordinator for the Multnomah County District Attorney"s Office, reveal that Portland, Oregon"s Community Court system, like Connecticut"s, has a relatively low failure-to-appear rate.26 Quality-of-life violation and misdemeanor cases are arraigned in one of Portland"s three Community Courts. Police issue offenders citations to appear at a specific date and time at the Community Court serving the city area in which the violation or misdemeanor occurred. Violations of the "quality-of-life" sort are seen primarily on the West Side, where the highest homeless population resides.27 While theft, drug, and prostitution offenses make up the bulk of the Community Court docket, 5% of cases are alcohol-related. Robyn Gregory notes that while violators have the right to pay fines, those who appear in court typically plea out and receive community service sentences of eight hours or more. According to Gregory, in the East Side Community Court, social service providers see all violation offenders as well. While drug or alcohol treatment may be part of an offender"s sentence, such treatment is generally referred and not mandated at the violation level since the Court does not have sufficient sanctioning leverage in the case of violations.28 Drug and alcohol treatment as part of sentencing is more common at the misdemeanor level, as is mental health treatment. The Community Court"s Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Monitoring System monitors misdemeanor offenders for up to three months.
According to Gregory, the Community Court system has been very successful in Portland. As of January of 2002, 4,035 defendants had received community court sentences through the Community Courts; 61% of these defendants successfully completed their service sentences. Gregory also indicated that the Community Courts, while successful, need more resources to effectively assess, monitor and case manage defendants.29
Street Outreach Services
New York City"s Street Outreach Services Program is a collaboration between the New York Police Department and the Midtown Community Court. Six teams of one social worker and one or two police officers make contact with homeless people and tell them about social services available at the Midtown Community Court in hopes that they will take advantage of these services.30 Street Outreach Services is explicitly not concerned with law enforcement-no sweeps are made, and citations are not written. It also differs in principle from SFCADA"s 11550 treatment option program31, as police officers usually use their discretion not to write citations when working in Street Outreach Services capacity. Nonetheless, the police presence may have an effect on willingness to accept treatment that social service providers alone would not have: in some cases, people may decide to go into Community Court to get warrant problems resolved since they know they will see the police officer the following day in his or her law enforcement capacity. 32
Feasibility of Implementing Models
For a detailed discussion of the distinctions between San Francisco"s existing Community Court system and the Community Court model discussed above, as well as a discussion of costs and feasibility of implementing such a court in San Francisco, see Legislative Analyst Report 033-00. The Street Outreach Model presents a number of issues for consideration. First, as Charlie Morimoto, Assistant to the Deputy Director at DPH, noted, successful street outreach work depends to a large extent on establishing rapport and police presence may compromise this rapport to some extent. Morimoto works on coordinating DPH homeless outreach services which includes Mobile Assistance Patrol, a component of the non-profit Community Awareness Treatment Services, which has a contract with DPH. MAP"s First Response Team sends two-person teams out to target areas five days a week to encourage homeless persons into treatment and social services. Morimoto indicated that concerns about police collaboration in social service outreach work include concerns that there aren"t enough appropriate treatment services for everyone that needs services. Mara Raider, Civil Rights Project Coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness, also voiced this concern. She also indicated that the Coalition is concerned that homeless people"s mistrust of police officers has built up over the years and police presence may be a barrier to getting people helpful information.33 More generally, police presence may be seen by some as coercive even if police officers working in outreach capacity are explicitly not working in a strict law enforcement capacity. Marilyn Kissinger stated that she has seen positive and effective police collaboration with social service providers through San Mateo County"s First Chance program. She indicated that in her experience in both San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, she has not seen police presence decrease people"s willingness to accept social services. Finally, police presence does have a cost which is often greater than costs associated with civilian personnel.34
Current processing protocols may not provide incentive for those cited to pay ticket fines or appear in court. Many offenders may be unable to pay the fines infractions citations impose, and while warrants may be issued for persons who fail to pay fines or to schedule a hearing, custodial arrests on these warrants in cases in which persons have outstanding fines on tickets are to some extent at the discretion of police officers. Most misdemeanor cases result in cases being discharged or dismissed.35
Accessible and attractive social services options may not currently be successfully integrated into the processing of quality of life violations. Social service access for quality of life offenders is not uniformly available across processing of offenses at different levels. While social service options and access do exist for some quality of life misdemeanor violators, such options are for the most lacking at the infractions level. Since in many cases the behaviors quality of life laws target may be manifestations of root problems such as drug and alcohol addiction or mental illness, referral to social services may have a greater impact on recidivism than police and court processing alone. Therefore, more aggressive prosecution of quality of life crimes or more effective court processing of violators may not have a long-term impact on recidivism if underlying conditions such as drug/alcohol or mental health issues prevalent among the population are not addressed.
An examination of San Francisco"s current system for processing quality of life law infractions and misdemeanors indicates that the current system provides little incentive for those cited to pay ticket fines or appear in court and does not uniformly link defendants with social services. Two models for incorporating social service options into the quality of life violation processing, a community court model bearing some similarity to that already used in San Francisco for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses and a "street outreach model" were presented above. The suitability of these models for San Francisco is a policy issue for discussion
1 The Coalition on Homelessness"s "Plan To End Homelessness In San Francisco" contains the following statement: "Always separate the criminal justice system from service providers and the provision of benefits." Mara Raider, Civil Rights Project Coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness, stated that one of COH"s reasons for supporting this separation is the concern that trained social service workers are better able to provide accurate and sensitive social service referrals than police officers.
2 For an inventory of many of San Francisco"s quality of life laws and associated penalties, see Table I in Legislative Analyst Report 051-01.
3 Staff in the District Attorney"s Office disagree with the claim that in most misdemeanor quality of life cases charges are dropped or cases discharged. Judith Garvey, who handles misdemeanor rebooking, stated that in June or July of 2000 she began the practice of saving police reports in order to charge repeat offenders with multiple offense violations and Public Nuisance. She indicated that as many as 75% of some types of quality of life offense cases in 2001 were released for future investigation for this reason, so disposition statistics sampled from 2000 for this report may not reflect this practice. Garvey also pointed out that in addition to releasing cases for further investigation, the D.A. may discharge cases for a variety of reasons, including release to other jurisdictions, lack of evidence, and pending trial on more serious charges.
4 For a more complete inventory and description of existing quality of life laws, see OLA report 051-01.
5 647(f) applies to drug intoxication as well as public drunkenness.
6 Gordon Park-Li, Superior Court Chief Executive Officer provided this summary.
7 MPC 21 (Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages), Police Code art. 2 sec. 120-1 (Aggressive Soliciting), MP 22-24 (No Sit/No Lie) and 374.3 PC (Dumping of Waste).
8 This does not mean that the persons cited appeared in court; court sources suggest that most cases in this finally adjudicated category end up being dismissed, often without the violator having appeared in court. See below. Less than one percent of sampled infraction citations resulted in other miscellaneous disposition outcomes.
9 In 2000, 438 infractions citations for violation of MP 22-24 (No Sit/No Lie) were issued. In 2% of these cases court records show fines were fully paid; new warrants were issued for 34 % and 63% of cases were finally adjudicated. There were 1,169 infraction citations dispositions for State Penal Code 374.3(a) (Dumping of Waste-this is the code used to cite persons for public urination). Fines were fully paid in roughly 17% of these cases, new warrants were issued in 36%, and 46% of cases were finally adjudicated. Two cases went to court for violations of Police Code art. 2 sec. 120-1 (Aggressive Soliciting).
10 According to Stokes, the last such order, signed by Presiding Judge Ronald Quidachay, required that all such warrants issued prior to June 5, 2000 be dismissed. Judge Herbert Donaldson issued a similar court order a few years earlier.
11 Garvey stated that she never charges encampment and rarely charges public drunkenness on a first offense, but rather keeps police reports and charges on multiple violations as well as Public Nuisance (graffiti, vandalism, weapons-related offenses, and 11550 (drug influence) are usually charged outright). Police Lieutenant Joe Dutto indicated that Park Station has begun tracking offenses on quality of life misdemeanors so as to be able to keep records, along with the District Attorney"s Office, of repeat offenses. Lieutenant Dutto indicated that this policy is not common to all of San Francisco"s police stations. Dutto stated that in the past year, four cases involving repeat violations of 647(f) have gone to jury trial and in three of these cases the defendant was convicted. He also stated that one of these cases involved violation of 647(j) (encampments).
12 See below, "Status Quo Social Service Options."
13 This likely represents a small portion of the total number of instances of release when sober. According to sources in the police department and the D.A."s office, standard practice for persons picked up for 647(f) is to hold the person for four hours or until sober and release him or her under section 849(b) of the State Penal Code without citation. Persons not booked and cited are not generally tracked by the court"s disposition coding system. Lieutenant Joe Dutto noted that he has implemented a policy at Park Station of citing out with a court date persons brought in on 647(f) rather than releasing when sober without a citation. It should be noted that 647(f) disposition data include persons under the influence of drugs in public as well as persons inebriated in public. In 2001, approximately 188 persons were charged with violation of 647(f).
14 21 of these cases were discharged "in the interest of justice", 19 were released for further investigation (see footnote 3 above), 17 were discharged due to lack of evidence or lack of corpus, 12 were released to another jurisdiction (some of these were likely referred to the Community Courts), 8 were discharged in order to charge the defendant with a different (and likely more serious) violation, and 3 were discharged with no complaint filed. Disposition outcomes for 8 cases were not coded.
15 All of the 22 374.3 PC (public urination) cases in 2000 were discharged or dismissed. One case was dismissed after completion of pretrial diversion, six were released to other jurisdictions, and 3 cases were dismissed or discharged in relation to other charges. All 13 MP 22 or MP 23 (Obstructing Any Street, Sidewalk, Passageway, or Other Public Way Prohibited) misdemeanor cases filed in 2000 were either discharged or dismissed. Two cases were released for further investigation, five were released to other jurisdictions, and one completed pretrial diversion. Of the four misdemeanor MP 120.1 (Aggressive Soliciting) cases in 2000, two were discharged prior to court proceedings, one was dismissed after court proceedings, and one resulted in a County Jail sentence. Ali Riker speculated that Court statistics may not capture dispositions on offenses charged in conjunction with other offenses and thus may not reflect the total number of dispositions for each category (she indicated that four misdemeanor Aggressive Soliciting cases for 2000 seemed low). Superior Court Manager Valerie McGrew confirmed that this is a possibility.
16 A more precise estimate of court costs associated with hearing a case that actually comes to court would include Commissioner costs, Clerk time for scheduling, preparing calendars, computer entries, and actual staff time in court.
17 Estimated costs associated with quality of life infractions provided by the District Attorney"s consist of personnel costs for one Senior Attorney and two Paralegals as well as operating costs for pretrial services for infractions violators (at $55,000). Quality of life misdemeanor costs consist of personnel costs for one full-time Assistant District Attorney.
18 Social service linkages do exist at most of these points in the San Francisco processing system, with the exception perhaps of the Superior Court itself, although the District Attorney may refer some cases to Community Court.
19 Through the Department of Public Health"s Treatment Access Program.
20 Violation of 11550 is not a custodial criminal offense. Under State Law 11550 convictions carry a 90 day mandatory minimum. Deputy District Attorney Judith Garvey stated that she charged 192 11550 cases in 2001.
21 Marilyn Kissinger, Director of Substance Abuse and Forensic Services for Family and Community Enrichment Services, Inc. (FACES, Inc.) in San Mateo County, stated that San Mateo County"s First Chance Program, which provides sobering stations and alternatives to incarceration for persons charged with 11550, 647(f) and DUI in San Mateo County, provides a model for effective police-social service collaboration. First Chance has seen approximately 30,000 persons in the last ten years and provides misdemeanants with social service access in combination with standard legal consequences.
22 The Coalition on Homelessness website cites statistics that between 30-60% of homeless people have alcohol or drug addiction problems but notes that this statistic is neutral as to whether "substance abuse is a cause or a symptom of someone"s homelessness."
23 For a detailed discussion of San Francisco"s Community Courts as compared with community courts in other jurisdictions, see Legislative Analyst Report 033-00.
24 According to Bateman, in the past six years, he has seen only 6 or 7 public dumping cases (Penal Code 374.3) and few stand-alone public intoxication (647(f)) cases (stand-alone public intoxication cases have become more frequent recently). No sit/no lie cases (MP 22-24) are very rare, and public alcohol consumption (MPC 21) cases, like 647(f) (Public Intoxication) cases, are generally seen in connection with another offense. He notes that infractions cases do occasionally come through the Community Courts, but almost always in conjunction with a misdemeanor charge.
25 The City Attorney"s Office screened cases for eligibility until the program was taken over by the District Attorney"s Office.
26 Gregory noted that the East Side Community Court has a 30-35% failure to appear rate, while the rate on the West Side is slightly higher, at 40-45%. She attributes the relatively high number of violators who do appear in Court to the facts that the time, date and location for court appearance is precisely specified on a citation and that police officers explain the Community Court program to offenders when issuing citations.
27 The average arraignment docket is 42 cases per week at North/Northeast Community Court, 44 cases per week at S/SE and 18 cases per day at the Westside Court.
28 Gregory stated that from a rehabilitation/treatment standpoint there may an incentive for jurisdictions to change the classifications of some offenses from violations or infractions to misdemeanors so that Courts have more leverage in enforcing treatment and effecting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.
29 Estimated per capita costs as of August 2001 were $352 per case at the North/Northeast court and $250 per case at the Southeast court per filing.
30 Program records from November 1996 through August 1999 show that SOS teams made about 440 excursions and made contact with about 3,900 people on the street. 656 people contacted came in for services, and each client who came in made an average of 4.1 visits.
31 See above.
33 Raider also stated that spending City money on outreach workers who do not have services to offer does not make sense. COH is in the process of developing a legislation proposal to link city outreach workers with intake workers in efforts to provide homeless persons with more direct social service access; COH believes such a system would be more effective in getting people into services and save the City money.
34 See Budget Analyst Report XXX
35 District Attorney Staff disagree with this claim and note that enforcement and prosecution have been stepped up in the past year and that many cases that a large number of discharged cases are released for further investigation in order to charge multiple violations at a later date.