“If you go to any courtroom in the Hall of Justice, you will see that the majority arrested are African American. At every stage of the criminal process – arrest, conviction and those who are sent to prison – there is a disproportionate impact on blacks. It is a tradition in San Francisco to focus sting operations in communities where there are larger populations of African Americans, and there are state and federal grants that support those stings.”
~ SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi
A recent study was conducted of 200 high-population counties nationwide to examine disparities in drug case jail sentences. Guess what? San Francisco county apparently locks up a higher percentage of African Americans in drug cases than any other county in the study. Granted, the statistics could be skewed as San Francisco might have a smaller percentage of African Americans than other counties (not hard to do since gentrification has caused SF’s Black community to dwindle to around 6 or 7 percent of the city). However, the results still show the Bay Area’s complicity in the nationwide trend of sending Blacks to jail much more than whites for drug offenses, even though rates of drug use amongst the two groups are the same.
Now I love the Bay Area, but we are kidding ourselves if we think the “liberal” culture here stops our institutions from being just as unjust as anywhere else. The “War on Drugs” continues to be a war on communities of color, especially that of the Black community when it comes to prison sentences. Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s comments above echo this, particularly in regards to the state and federal grants that support targeting the African American community in drug stings. Again, I love the Bay, but news like this makes me sick.
Props to Jeff Adachi for continuing to fight for the right kind of justice in the Bay Area legal system.