Fairness & Equity are Paramount – Alisha Alcantar Tomovic Testimony to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on 12/11/18

I am here to urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt the resolution urging the Mayor’s Office to maintain the structural independence of the Pretrial Services Programs in San Francisco.

While I am grateful for the progressive movement towards a more equitable pretrial system that the California legislators designed with SB10, I believe that a truly equitable and independent pretrial system is one where the process is not lead or applied by a law enforcement body, but an agency with deep understanding of the legal and ethical principles that underlie pretrial services. This is not to say that law enforcement agencies do not or cannot abide by legal doctrine, or make equitable decisions. But there are fundamental differences in the application of pretrial services and law enforcement services such as probation.

Probation is a criminal sanction, focused on rehabilitation and long-term impact on criminal behavior in lieu of incarceration – it is a sentence. The presumption of pretrial release is a constitutional right, a protected regulatory process that is limited to the pretrial period. It is a process that is a logical extension of the presumption of innocence.  These differences lead to clearly distinguishable operational practices that necessitate a working knowledge and application of pretrial principles. Misapplication or commingling of these principles and operations can lead to inequitable outcomes. San Francisco has consistently been on the forefront of transparent, equitable, and collaborative social change. I urge you to maintain this process and provide a platform to model these shared values for our communities in San Francisco.

*Whereas in San Francisco, since its inception in April 2016, the PSA Tool has identified approximately 20% of defendants as “high-risk” – meaning the release is not recommended due to risk score.