tv [untitled] November 25, 2011 10:30am-11:00am PST
she's also an author, smart on crime, a career pro prosecut s prosecutors. i met your attorney general only two minutes ago thus i don't know her that well. but one can tell a lot about a person by the staff who work for them. my experience with your staff has been terrific. they are deeply committed as u you, efficient, a delight to work with and they have a delicious sense of humor. they, like you, i believe, don't see this work as a job but a calling. i'm the lucky guy who gets to introduce your attorney general, welco welcome. [applause] >> thank you, jack. for your longstanding leadership on these issues and everything that we talk about when we talk
about being smart on crime you are right this staff has been with me a long time in the d.a. office and that is the special assistant attorney general in carjack of what we do around criminal justice and the most fabulous director of the california department of justice larry wallace. so, i want to recognize them and thank them. and i want to thank everyone here. i see a lot of friends in the room. i saw the chief here. a great leader of law enforcement. and his partner in all of it around law enforcement in the bay area, the great chief of the san francisco police department. i want to give them a shout out and thank them for all of their leadership. and i'm glad it -- to join you here. i feel like there are people i have known for years. i started in the alameda county
d.a. office and i'm a career prosecutor and i have personally prosecuted every kind of crime you can imagine, talking about why justice demands and dictates there will be severe and serious consequence when one human being kills another human being or when a woman is raped to are a child is molested. i have tkodone that work over 2 years and strongly believe in the importance of making sure that we keep communities safe. but when we talk about criminal justice policy, it is about discussing the issue beyond a specific criminal details. it is about talking about the crime problem. and in that way and from that perspecti perspective, when we talk as leaders of our communities, all united in our desires to have safe communities, we must be committed to focusing not only
on the consequences that must take place after a crime is committed, but on what we can also do to prevent a crime from happening in the first place. that is what we talk about when we talk about being smart on crime. basically i think about it in a way that says for too long we have accepted this false choice on criminal justice policy that says you are either soft on crime or you are tough on crime instead of asking are we smart on crime. in particular and i see you here, mayor. i thank you for your leadership. i want to talk about the issue from the perspective that i now see it as the attorney general of california. we are the most populous state in the union and what we know is on an annual basis california releases about 120,000 prisoners and within three years of their release 70% reoffend. there is a word for that.
it is called recidivism. we have the highest rate in the country although not by far. so when we talk on what we need to do and think about what we need no do to create safe communities one of the biggest issues that we as a state are facing is the issue of defenders who seven out of 10 will re-around. i would suggest as a career prosecutor and attorney general we need to shut that revolving door. the way we are going to be most successful in doing that is recognizing that we have predictable outcomes that we have the ability to khaeupchang away focus on the issue of reentering former offenders and doing everything we can to reduce the i think about this issue in the context of now what we are dealing with and particularly around our state budgets.
some would say we are a state on the verge of bankruptcy. what we know is that the slice of that pie that is the criminal justice system, the slice of that budget that is the criminal justice system in california is a very huge slice. it is extremely expensive. and in the interests, then, of our state budget being of equal interest for some of us as public safety, we need to get smarter. and part of the way we are going to do that, i believe, is to infuse metrics in our analysis of our effectiveness. looking at our system, beyond some good sense of satisfaction because we are doing things the way they have always been done, and instead infuse metrics into the analysis and do as the private sector tells us is good business and look at the return on -- on our investment, in that way i believe that what
you are doing here with all of these leaders, mayors, community leaders, police chiefs and others, is coming together as a community with a collective purpose and desire to be smarter in the way we are using diminishing public resources, and to do what we can to be more effective around the creation of public safety. when i think about specific examples, i'm just going to talk about a couple from my own experience. i know ed lee was here, the great mayor of the city and county of san francisco. one thing we created was an initiative called back on track, which we created when i was d.a. of san francisco. we chose to focus on the 18-24-year-old he is, first time, low-level, non-violent drug sales offenders. why that group.
when i was in college, i was in that group, and we were all called college kid. but when you turn 18 and in the system, you are considered an adult, period, without any with regard that that is the very phase of life where we have invested billions of dollars in colleges and universities, knowing that is a prime phase of life during which we mold and shape human beings to become a productive adult. we focused on that age population, and essentially it was a public-private partnership, and again with diminishing resources, public-private partnerships are the way to seeing our way for a more improved criminal justice system. it is going to be calling on leaders of business who consider themselves not only leaders in business, but leaders in the community. what we did is we brot together job skills development,
parenting classes and a number of other resources. over the course of five years, we reduced the recidivism of that population from 54% to 39%. it is a model for innovation around the united states. i think we all know this. innovation in law enforcement is not an oxymoron. we can do it. there is another initiative that we started, again with the same purpose and focus, and it was a bit controversial. it was the issue of focusing on elementary school truancy. now why did i do that? we had a rash of homicides in san francisco a few years back. many of our cities are plagued with those statistics going up and down. it was an issue for all of us in leadership. so i asked a member of my staff to go and tell me who are our
homicide victims who are under the age of 25 when they were killed. the data came back and included the fact that 94% were high school drop-outs. so then i went over to the school district and asked the support -- superintendent what is going on? she said the of the number we had in san francisco public skyhooks, 54% has been designated as habitally and chronically truant, and 54% of those were elementary age students. we are talking about 6 or 7-year-olds who are missing, 50, 60, up to 80 days of an 180-day school year. who do we think those children will end up being? and so the direct connection between public education and public safety. and so we decided to take it on, and i decided to do something that was a bit controversial.
one of the benefits of being the chief elected law enforcement officer of then the city and now the state is you have a big old badge. and there is an artistic rendering of the badge on your stationary. i sent a letter out to every parent in the san francisco unified school district outlining the direct connection between elementary school truancy, high school drop-out rates, who will be a victim of crime and who will be a perpetrator. the letter went out to every parent in the school district. i got a call from a friend, and he said my got the letter. she freaked out. she called all the kids into the living room, held up the letter and said if you don't go to school, she is going to put you and me in jail. intended effect. [laughter] the minnesota was to do exactly what -- the point was to do
exactly what was accomplished. the superintendent said you haven't been returning my calls. did you hear what the crazy d.a. said? this is a crime, and she is going to look after it. return my calls. over the initiative, which the current d.a. is continuing with the partnership of ed lee, over the last four years consecutively, we have seen a substantial decrease of truancy for that population. in fact, over 30%. [applause] and some people, some people said well, you are trying to criminalize parents. the last thing we want is for parents to be locked up. i agree. but you know the beauty of this initiative? we drew this initiative and had interactions with hundreds and hundreds of parents where we did what we call the d.a. mediation. sometimes i would have some of
my prosecutors come and sit in the mediations. when i first rolled it out, because this was not traditional for a d.a.'s office. alameda county is doing it. i took volunteers because there really wasn't the budget for it. my first volunteers were my homicide and gang prosecutors. i would have them sit in mediation, and those dudes already look mean. the parents would say who is the mean-looking dude. that is someone the d.a. sent up because they are going to start prosecuting. by putting the infrared spotlight of our public safety and law enforcement on that issue, we were then able to find out exactly what was going on. we then learned, for example, of a woman who was by herself, raising her three children, holding down two jobs and
homeless. true story. so by asking the question and bringing her in, we then put access and helped her ack services that already exist. and that was the point of the initiative. to this day not one parent has been jailed. but we have prosecuted a couple of the cases, which means basically it is an infraction. but hundreds and hundreds of students have benefited. so i would suggest there are many different ways at which we can focus on this issue that you are meeting about today. what we can do to focus on gang crime at its worst is by rolling it back and looking at predictors and how we can intervene early in the cycle. because frankly, again -- i will end my comments where i started. i am a career prosecutor, and i do believe in consequence to crime.
that is why i went down, and the first couple of months of my new position to imperial county, california. i looked at the tunnels down there, and i saw photographs of tunnels with walls as smooth as they are in the marriott, lined with lighting and air conditioning. and it was clear to me that that was about a business that is making a lot of money through the trafficking of guns and drugs and human beings. i saw evidence of the seriousness of the threat to public safety when we look at the cartels and how highly arguized and efficient they have been in committing crimes that are running right up the i-5. i have seen it when we were part of an operation that ended up in the arrest warrants for
101 gang members. so it is a serious issue. but it is in that way something that we need to approach understanding it is not monolithic. and in a way of understanding that we can and have a responsibility, all of us, be communitied leaders, social workers, teachers, police officers or prosecutors, we all have a role to play in addressing this issue in a way that i believe and know we can make a difference. i will close by just saying that we are facing obviously many changes, but i think we are all here because we know in the face of challenge and crisis, there are also great opportunities. so i want to commend and thank all of you as leaders for being here today and dedicating this day and your time and expertise to moving us forward to find some of the solutions. thank you very much. [applause]