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March 7, 2015 / 5:15 p.m. 

San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade

Market Street @ 2nd Street


Contributing Writers


Undersheriff F. Rocha

Sergeant R. Winters

Director of Programs Riker

Ms. K. Monico Klein

Ms. L.  Levitas



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San Francisco

Sheriff's Department

Ross MirkarimiA Message from Sheriff  

Ross Mirkarimi


We continue our work by strengthening public safety in the community and strengthening community in our jails. Bridging our neighborhoods are the three pretrial diversion programs that allow individuals, especially those who cannot afford bail, the opportunity to remain with family, working, or for the homeless, to receive intensive case management, while their case proceeds its way through the criminal justice system. For those who are ultimately released, the fewer ties that are broken, the fewer ties that need re-connection. As more people with severe mental illness cycle the criminal justice system, we must develop better programs to divert them to an effective system of care.

In July, we began the Station Unit Transfer (STU) pilot project with the SF Police Department, deploying Deputy Sheriffs to transport and book arrestees at our Intake and Release Facility, County Jail #1. This time, we studiously collected data on operational and staffing mechanics, carefully compiling a chronological and statistical file. This data validates the conventional notion that this program saves money and keeps beat officers on the street. Public safety is better and more efficiently served.


In January we celebrated the Five Keys Charter High School graduation ceremonies. These diplomas and all the accomplishment they embody are the result of innovative programming combined with the commitment to: provide and accept opportunity, give and receive hope, and create a positive community. While incarceration is the intersection of so many wrongs in a person's life, Five Keys Charter High School is the intersection of so much that is restorative.


In both our men's and women's facilities, we recognized Black History Month with special programs with readings about famous African American leaders, community members speaking about their challenges and triumphs, and shared the spoken word.

On behalf of the Sheriff's Department, staff and inmates, I want to thank Dr. Joe Goldenson for his 28 years of dedicated service and most recently as the Director of Jail Health Services. His dedication and creativity greatly improved health care for prisoners and established national standards for respectful and compassionate healthcare. Prisoners have a constitutional right to health care, but that is meaningless without the fine work of Dr. Goldenson.

Finally, we wish everyone happy and safe Lunar New Year celebrations.


Station Transfer Unit (STU) Pilot Proves Successful July 2014 the San

 Francisco Sheriff's Department entered into a formal Letter of Agreement with the San Francisco Police Department to conduct a six month pilot project to assess the evidence-based effects of conducting a limited station transfer operation.  The pilot project provided Sheriff's wagon services for two of the ten district stations, Mission and Tenderloin, seven days a week, excluding holidays.  


The unit for the operation was comprised of supervisors and deputy sheriffs from throughout the department and with the cooperation of Sheriffs' Managers and Supervisors Association (MSA) and Deputy Sheriffs' Association (DSA). In addition to capturing very specific data on numbers of prisoners processed, refusals due to medical reasons, days and times during which pickups were made, by station, we also captured data on SFPD escorted prisoners to SFGH for medical treatment prior to acceptance and booking into county jail and other critical information for future use for potential budget requests. the conclusion of the six month pilot, it came as no surprise that SFSD performed at very efficient and safe levels.  In addition to capturing data on the busiest patterns for prisoner pickups, we also tracked data on medical refusals both at the district stations and at CJ#1.  For the six month period we transported 1453 prisoners.  


The significance of these data points will be seen should we move forward with a budget request that includes hospital transports for the SFPD.  This information had not previously been captured and will be very important during any future budget negotiations for resources to continue STU.  Finally, a huge note of gratitude to the deputy sheriffs and supervisors who made this pilot so successful.  Due to these efforts, the SFSD once again demonstrated why we are an integral part of the public safety team in San Francisco.


SF Examiner Article from July 2014 for more information about the pilot project.


African American History Month in the San Francisco County Jails History Month, also known as African American History Month, has been an annual observance celebrated each February in the United States since 1976. It is acknowledged by the San Francisco Sheriff's Department with a variety of special programs and presentations. This year the following activities took place:


The Sisters in Sober Treatment Empowered in Recovery (SISTERS) Program at CJ 2 honored Black History Month by inviting community members to speak with the women about their struggles, successes, and poetry. Every afternoon in February, clients honored a different African American leader by reading highlights of their lives out loud to the SISTERS community. Program partner Healthright360 provided a special meal in the pod at the end of February.

A Five Keys Charter School Case Manager worked with the women in the Life Skills class in CJ 2's E Pod to write and perform a special program called "Freedom Train." The case manager lined up additional speakers, including Sheriff's Department's Rehabilitation Services Coordinators, and a Deputy Probation Officer. 

The Roads to Recovery Program at CJ 5 in San Bruno honored Black History Month with motivational guest speakers from the community coming into the jail to talk about their struggles, successes, and poetry. Every day of February during morning meetings there were cultural readings covering famous African American leaders from the past to the present. Participants volunteered to share any spoken word on Fridays during the month to express their thoughts on Black History. Healthright360 provided a meal at the end of month in honor of Black History Month. As a tradition, every year in honor of Black History a program participant sings the Black National Anthem.


In Honor of Dr. Joe Goldenson

Dr. Joe Goldenson has retired from his position as Director of Jail Health Services, the division of the Department of Public Health responsible for providing healthcare to San Francisco's most marginalized citizens, those who are incarcerated in the San Francisco county jails.

Prisoners are among one of the only groups in this country with a constitutional right to health care. In San Francisco that right is embodied in the healthcare services the Department of Public Health delivers to San Francisco county jail prisoners through Jail Health Services.

Since the 1980s when public health assumed responsibility for the healthcare of prisoners, Jail Health Services has become known throughout the country as the model for prisoner health care. The person most recently responsible for that care is Joe Goldenson, MD who began working at Jail Health Services 28 years ago when Jail Health Services' first director, Nancy Rubin, hired Joe Goldenson as an MD.

Joe Goldenson started at Jail Health Services first as a doctor, then as Medical Director and then as Director of Jail Health Services. During these 28 years, Joe Goldenson has worked for the improvement of healthcare in incarcerated settings not only in San Francisco but also throughout the country.


Joe Goldenson's innovations and efforts are reflected in improved standards of care throughout the country. Those protocols and policies Joe Goldenson has promoted have helped establish a national standard for compassionate and respectful care.


Joe Goldenson's vision for a public health model for care in jails and prisons has proven both creative and effective. In addition to establishing a template for respectful prisoner healthcare, Joe Goldenson has conducted his work with humor and respect directed to both patients and staff.


GRADUATION CEREMONIES January 22, 2015, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi had the great honor of presiding over the San Francisco Sheriff Department's (SFSD) Five Keys Charter High School graduation ceremonies. Two separate ceremonies were held at the Hall of Justice.

In a morning ceremony, 21 inmate graduates walked across the stage to accept their diplomas or certificates of completion, while in the afternoon 31 community graduates accepted their diplomas or certificates of completion. This year, Five Keys Charter High School is one step closer to reaching its critical goal of graduating 1,000 students since its inception in 2003.


Five Keys Charter High School is the first public charter high school to operate in a county jail, infusing the ideals of community, family, recovery, education and employment into its school curriculum. Five Keys Charter High School's positive impact has reached beyond the cement walls of our facilities and is now embedded inside the Los Angeles County jail system and operates 16 community centers throughout San Francisco.

In 2014, Five Keys received the Hart Vision Award at the annual California Charter Schools Conference (CCSC) for its significant contributions to the CCSC's mission to increase student achievement.

The SFSD Five Keys Charter High School graduation ceremonies are the result of joint innovative community effort combined with the commitment to provide opportunity, give hope and create a positive impact on the lives of a unique group of attendees and their loved ones. "Where incarceration is the intersection of so many wrongs in a person's life, historically, within the U.S. prison and jail systems, opportunities proved few in providing the ex-offender hope through a working skill. However, those times are changing, as evidenced by the durable reach of the San Francisco Sheriff Department's Five Keys Charter School whose common sense approach to improving public safety is by not letting incarcerated minds decay," stated Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.


San Francisco Sheriff's Department Pretrial Diversion Project

The San Francisco Sheriff's Department contracts with SF Pretrial Diversion Project to operate three programs that provide alternatives to pretrial incarceration. The intended outcome of all three programs is minimizing risk to public safety, while affording defendants the opportunity to reconnect with family and community while meeting the requirements of the court.


The purpose of the Own Recognizance (OR) Project is to interview eligible in-custody defendants and present their cases to a judicial officer for possible pre-arraignment release on their own recognizance. A judicial officer reviews the OR packet which consists of the interview, criminal history which is also summarized and the arrest report, and determines if the defendant should be released. If the judge grants release, the OR staff informs the defendant of the conditions of their release. If the judge denies OR or if the defendant is ineligible for pre-arraignment OR release, the OR staff provide the defendant information to the arraignment courts for possible release on court OR or referral to Supervised Pretrial Release or Court Accountable Homeless Services.


Supervised Pretrial Release (SPR) is an alternative for those who do not qualify for OR and cannot post bail. SPR is a conditional release program in which eligible defendants are released on their promise to abide by court orders with their program participation closely supervised by staff.


Court Accountable Homeless Services (CAHS) provides the most intensive supervision on the continuum of pretrial alternatives to incarceration. CAHS seeks to address chronic homelessness and concurring court appearances through intensive case management. Many of the homeless offenders exhibit a host of issues that impede their ability to successfully navigate the judicial system and must overcome a number of unique challenges beyond homelessness. To that end, CAHS provides the court with an effective and comprehensive pretrial release program for defendants with poor appearance records. 


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