SAN FRANCISCO (CA) — Today District Attorney candidate Suzy Loftus announced her proposal to create the first-of-its-kind Civil Rights Unit in the San Francisco DA’s office.
“It is the prosecutor, charged with doing justice, who must take on this issue and take an unflinching look at his or her own practices to determine how to eradicate bias in the criminal justice system, reduce racial disparities across the board, and focus on the prosecutor’s ability to protect the rights of all San Franciscans, “ said Suzy. “The very legitimacy of our justice system is at stake.”
Read the complete policy announcement here.
For decades, the criminal justice system in San Francisco has seen extreme racial disparities, and data shows a significant nationwide problem. Currently, African Americans are 5% of our population, but compose 53% of our jail population. Even as drug arrests in San Francisco have dropped 92% since 1988, disproportionate arrests of African Americans have persisted. Women, especially women of color and LGBTQIA women, are the fastest growing population in jails. Latinx and African American individuals are more likely to be booked on serious charges with an increased likelihood that charges may be refiled.
As District Attorney, Suzy will use the power and discretion of the DA’s Office to institute new policies and practices aimed at creating a more fair and just system, such as:
- Conducting a complete audit of SFDA practices and outcomes, led by experts in the field, to understand where existing policies and practices are increasing or decreasing disparities.
- Collecting and analyzing data on charging decisions, use of prosecutorial discretion, conviction integrity, and other key decision points to understand where disparities are being exacerbated.
- Piloting best and emerging practices to eliminate bias, such as color-blind charging.
- Establishing new policies around charging decisions, plea offers, sentencing recommendations and other practices to combat racial disparities.
- Requiring implicit bias, procedural justice, and racial equity training for all SFDA employees.
- Requiring monthly reports across the Office measuring racial disparities in case outcomes for defendants and crime victims alike.
The Civil Rights Unit also will also be charged with leveraging the affirmative power of the prosecutor’s office to enforce civil rights, including prosecuting those who commit civil rights violations against our residents. The affirmative enforcement agenda of the Civil Rights Unit will include:
- Workers’ Rights: Enforce workers’ rights and prosecute cases of unfair labor practices, including wage theft, employment discrimination, unsafe working conditions, etc.
- Housing Rights: Protect the housing rights of all San Franciscans, including combating housing discrimination based on race, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other factors, poor housing conditions, unlawful evictions, etc.
- Environmental Justice: Hold toxic polluters accountable, enforce environmental laws.
- Corporate Crime: Prosecute corporate fraud and predatory business practices that target marginalized populations (redlining, etc.)
- Immigrants’ Rights: Due process and equal rights are fundamental American values and must be applied equally to all community members, especially immigrants, that come into contact with the criminal justice system.
- Victims’ Rights: Every aspect of the criminal justice system must strengthen the voices of survivors of crime, increase access to services that facilitate their healing, integrate restorative practices, and identify systemic gaps within our community that are the root of many crimes.
- Restoring Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People: Protect the rights of and address unlawful discrimination against formerly incarcerated individuals in housing, employment, education, and other areas.
Suzy is supported by leaders such as Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Mayor London Breed, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, State Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblymember David Chiu and State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen. Suzy has also earned the support of the majority of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors including President Norman Yee, Rafael Mandelman, Vallie Brown, Catherine Stefani, Shamann Walton, Ahsha Safai and Gordon Mar.
Other leaders to endorse Suzy include community advocate and BART Board member Lateefah Simon, gun safety advocate Shawn Richards, justice activist Sunny Schwartz, leader Roma Guy, former chair of the SF Democratic Party Mary Jung, community leaders Darlene Chiu Bryant and Jaynry Mak, community leader David Chan, Democratic activist Petra de Jesus, Frances Hseih, Tami Bryant and many more.
More information about Suzy’s journey to becoming a prosecutor and reform advocate, as well as her policy platform, is available at www.VoteSuzyLoftus.com.