SF Court Focuses on ‘Diversion’ to Keep Low Level Offenders Out of Jail, System

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By Elena Rawlinson

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – It was a busy day Tuesday in Judge Gale Dekreon’s San Francisco County Superior Courtroom—a common thread throughout several of the cases the court heard involved the plan called “pretrial diversion,” to divert people out of jail and the system.

California pretrial diversion refers to a series of programs that provide eligible defendants with the option to participate in agreed upon programs in exchange for expungement/dismissal of their original charges.

California has three types of pretrial diversion programs. The first is the low level misdemeanor diversion program. This establishes that those defendants who are involved in non–violent drug and other offenses may participate in rehabilitation in education—anger management, life skills or similar programs—rather than serve time in jail.

The second diversion program is mental health diversion. This serves those defendants who suffer from mental health issues to receive mental health treatment rather than criminal prosecution.

The third and final diversion program is the military/veterans program. This allows California military personnel suffering from trauma, PTSD other military-related ills to pursue treatment and support in lieu of prosecution.

Marrero Cruz was one such defendant who qualified for one of the three outlined diversion programs. He was ordered to be present in court on June 29 but appeared to be absent when the judge called his case.

Judge Dekreon noted that Marrero Cruz was missing from court, hadn’t completed his required public service, but had paid his restitution in full.

Marrero Cruz’ counsel—Assistant Public Defender Alejandra Ramirez—explained that Marrero Cruz had completed his public service but hadn’t submitted evidence of his work to the diversion division.

With this new information, Dekreon granted a bench warrant stay. The DA objected to this stay–arguing that Marrero Cruz had previously come to court several times and had been granted slack but the lack of proper evidence that he’d completed his end of the diversion program was indicative of noncompliance.

The PD asserted once again that Marrero Cruz’ counsel had seen the evidence of public service completion and it just hadn’t gone through the correct channels yet. Judge Dekreon ultimately passed the bench warrant stay and set a court date for Aug. 3 for the defendant to clear up the matter.

Judge Dekreon forged on, issuing a number of bench warrants for court no-shows. In addition to these warrants, pre-trial dates were set for those who had appeared in court for an arraignment, and public defenders were appointed as counsel for several individuals whose financial situations qualified them to receive services from the Public Defender’s Office.

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About The Author

Elena Rawlinson is a 12th grader at the Nueva School in San Mateo who is interested in pursuing a career in law. She hopes to improve her communication skills and gain insight into the mechanics of the criminal justice system.

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2 thoughts on “SF Court Focuses on ‘Diversion’ to Keep Low Level Offenders Out of Jail, System”

  1. Keith Olsen

    Boudin’s San Francisco:

    Looters were captured on video Monday ransacking a Neiman Marcus in San Franciscoas thefts continue to plague businesses in the area.

    At least nine suspects smashed display cases, snatched handbags, and jetted out of the building before law enforcementarrived to the scene at about 6 p.m., according tofootage. The suspects were seen running out of the store with their hands full of merchandise before entering an apparent getaway car that sped off down a busy intersection.
    “What happened in that Walgreens has been going on in the city for quite a while,” she said in June. “I’m used to it. I mean, we could have a greatest hits compilation of people just walking in and cleaning out the store shelves and security guards, the people who work there, just standing by helplessly because they can’t do anything.”
    “The ‘criminals first’ agenda from the district attorney [is to blame] because he’s not prosecuting any of those crimes as felonies [or] as a commercial burglary. [Criminals realize,] ‘This is gonna get slapped down to a misdemeanor,'” she continued.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/looters-ransack-san-francisco-neiman-141600425.html

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