On Wednesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee voted 3-2 to deny $500,000 funding to Mayor Newsom’s Community Justice Center.
While many San Franciscans have been led to believe that the Center would deal with problematic misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, such as drug-dealing charges, the Mayor’s Office has repeatedly touted the Center as a piece of a solution to homelessness, focusing on “quality of life” citations, which, in San Francisco’s law books, include various kinds of sleeping in public, asking for alms twice, and jaywalking. At the same time that the City was asked to devote $500,000 now to an untested and almost undefined project that will cost millions each year to run, the Mayor is proposing cuts to the municipal budget which will eliminate some of the very service to which the Community Justice Center was intended to send citees.
While the ideal of using treatment instead of punishment in cases where treatment is wanted and useful is right on, this has to be applied intelligently (and without a published plan, with constant City bureaucrat confusion between “treatment” and “services,” with the bizarre idea that all panhandlers need some kind of treatment other than an income, we’ve got no reason to believe that it will be), and it cannot come at the cost of decreased services overall or decreased accessibility to services for those who seek them out without the stick of the criminal justice system. Any such plan needs to come with a clear plan, and with funding for the treatment it will mandate.
Carolyn Tyler covers the story for ABC here.