News Releases
The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman Initiate Steps to Reform Electronic Monitoring Program

Need for improvements as number of individuals out of custody on alternative forms of incarceration, including electronic monitoring, increased from 37% in 2016 to 63% in 2020

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman have initiated steps to work with the Sheriff and the Adult Probation Department to reform San Francisco’s electronic monitoring program. This public safety tool needs reforms to achieve its original deterrence function, while also serving as an alternative to incarceration.

As first steps, the Mayor has requested the Sheriff and Adult Probation Department (APD) develop and present recommendations regarding how to best strengthen the electronic monitoring program in San Francisco so that its original deterrence function can be fulfilled. Supervisor Mandelman submitted a letter of inquiry to the Adult Probation Department for information regarding APD’s electronic monitoring program and requested a Budget and Legislative Analyst report to compare and contrast San Francisco’s program for electronic monitoring to other similar jurisdictions.

“Electronic Monitoring is essential in our work to reduce incarceration. But if it is failing as a tool for deterrence then it is failing those we are trying to keep out of jail and we are failing the public,” said Mayor London Breed. “By working with the Sheriff and Adult Probation, we can reform and strengthen this important public safety tool that can keep people out of jail, and prevent future contact with the criminal justice system.”

“One out of every three people on pretrial electronic monitoring in San Francisco removes their ankle monitor or commits other crimes,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “If one out of every three cells in our jail had broken locks we would do something about it. We must continue to invest in alternatives to incarceration—and we must ensure that those alternatives are effective so that we keep the public safe and break the cycle of recidivism and re-incarceration.”

In July, Supervisor Mandelman sent a letter of inquiry to the Sheriff requesting data on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring for the pretrial population, including a breakdown of charges against those released on pretrial electronic monitoring. In response to his request, the Sheriff released the following information:

  • As of July 31, 2021, there were 328 active clients on electronic monitoring, of whom 126 failed to comply with the terms of their electronic monitoring.
  • Many people released on electronic monitoring failed repeatedly to comply with the terms of their release during the past year: 381 persons failed 1 time, 160 persons failed 2 times, 66 persons failed 3 times, 27 persons failed 4 times, 4 persons failed 5 times, 3 persons failed 6 times, 2 persons failed 7 times, and 1 person failed 9 times.
  • Many of those released on electronic monitoring were charged with a variety of violent crimes including Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Kidnapping, Child Molestation, Attempted Murder, Rape, Robbery, and Carrying a Loaded Gun.

Given the concerning nature of this data, Supervisor Mandelman is requesting an analysis from the Budget and Legislative Analyst to determine how these statistics compare with other California jurisdictions. Supervisor Mandelman also sent a letter of inquiry to the Adult Probation Department to gather additional data on the effectiveness of post-sentencing electronic monitoring.

The use of electronic monitoring has significantly increased in San Francisco over time. The percentage of individuals out of custody and on alternative forms of incarceration like electronic monitoring increased from 37% in 2016 to 63% in 2020. In July of this year, the California Policy Lab published a report regarding pretrial release and found that roughly half of the individuals released were accused of committing a new crime while out of custody and nearly half failed to show up for court. The report also found about 1 in 6 defendants allegedly committed a new violent crime while out of custody. The report based their findings on data from May 2016 to December 2019 which covered 9.881 cases of people charged with crimes in San Francisco and released from jail before trial.