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Civil Grand Jury reports (Volume 1976-77) online

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and varied types of cases handled by this department it is felt that
the legal staff has to be highly specialized. Mr. O'Connor and his
staff are to be commended for their diligence and dedication.


The San Francisco Public Defender's Office, under the direc-
tion of Mr. Robert Nicco, operates pursuant to the Charter of the City
and County of San Francisco and is governed by Section 27706, and
related Sections of the Government Code of the State of California.
In recent years the mandated services required by the Public Defender
have been and are continuing to increase as a result of local, State
and Federal Statutory Laws and as a result of State and Federal
Appellate Decisions.




This Division handles felonies, misdemeanors and mental
health cases, and is staffed by permanent and CETA attorneys. One
permanent attorney is assigned to the Mental Health Division.


I ■ M ■ ■■■■ I I ■ I 1 ■ i ■- I.

The Public Defender's Office staffs four courts at Youth
Guidance Center. Each attorney assigned there, including the head
attorney, Mr. Gregory Bonfilio, handles a caseload. Presently, all
but the head attorney are rotated every six months between Youth
Guidance Center and the Hall of Justice. With the increased workload
created by AB 3121, we recommend that the attorneys assigned to Youth
Guidance Center be permanent as they are with other Divisions of the
Public Defender's Office. This is a specialized area of the law and
demands the same expertise as other Public Defender functions. Knowl-
edge of unique legal problems involved in out of home placements and
other areas of juvenile representation can only be acquired through
long term exposure.


In order to make the attorneys as efficient and productive
as possible the Public Defender has used the services of volunteers,
interns and para-legals. These services have relieved the attorney
staff of many time consuming activities and increased the quality of
the services rendered to the clients. Part of the Volunteer Program
has been under the auspices of Northern California Service League and
student-interns from various Bay Area Colleges and Universities and,
also, some who volunteer on an individual basis. One law firm in
San Francisco provides a full time attorney, as it has for some years,
from their litigation team with a change-over every three months.
During the summer of 1976, the San Francisco Foundation, in conjunction
with Law Students Civil Rights Research Council, funded twenty law
students for 6400 hours. Also, during the year many attorneys rendered
services on a volunteer basis. This additional help aided the Public
Defender and his staff who were operating on a very limited budget.


The Lanterman, Petris, Short Act imposed added duties on the
Public Defender's office. Individuals currently confined to State
Hospitals and Mental Hygiene Homes require visitation and representa-
tion. These institutions are located throughout the State. Those
under Conservatorship must have their case reviewed every six months.
The investigators see approximately 700 to 800 individuals per year.
Inadequate provisions are made for automobile mileage reimbursement
to the people assigned to this function. Especially for this State
required responsibility, since long distance travels to the hospitals



are required, it is recommended that sufficient automobile mileage
reimbursement be granted.

Since San Francisco has many transients, it is often required
to provide mental hospital facilities for people who are not legal
residents. The Public Defender and his staff are now making consider-
able effort to determine the legal residence for these individuals and
have the responsible jurisdictional authority assume the cost of care
and support.


Last year a pilot program, which involved the opening of a
statelite office at Potrero Hill, was initiated in response to commu-
nity demands to make the Public Defender's Office more accessible to
the public. After a few months, this program was discontinued because
so few individuals availed themselves of this service.


The Public Defender intended to apply for Federal Funds for
an unmarked mobile van. Recently, a used van was donated to this
department. This will enable the staff to obtain interviews with
people in areas away from the Hall of Justice, which some find forebod-
ing. It also aids those witnesses who are unable to travel. The van
provides 24 hour service.


Recently the Municipal Court proposed the creation of a new
special defense panel in the furtherance of its efforts to maintain
the high quality of service of the Public Defender's Office, and the
legal representation of defendants before the court in criminal cases.
The purpose of this panel would be to provide legal services to those
persons who cannot pay a lump sum retainer or the entire fee in advance
of the handling of their case, but who are regularly employed and have
the ability to make a modest initial payment, and regular periodic
payments to a private attorney. At the present time it is felt this
category of "borderline" cases is causing unnecessary and added work-
load on the Public Defender's Office.

This Department is badly in need of additional office space.
Through the ingenious acquisition by the Public Defender of unused
open hallway space he has been able to install a Word Processing Center
which will alleviate some of the backlog. With the addition of this
Center, and two additional stenographers, the time required to process
documents for Public Defender Attorneys has been reduced from twenty-
four hours to eight hours.



This Grand Jury feels that Mr. Robert Nicco and his staff
have provided a very high quality of defense to those in need, despite
working under the adverse conditions of insufficient personnel, equip-
ment, lack of office space, and a very limited budget.


This Civil Grand Jury recognizes that the Sheriff's Depart-
ment has been involved in a number of political altercations during
the past year about which we will not direct comment. We also rec-
ognize, however, that this department has a responsibility to the
citizens of this City and County to enforce the law. We believe that
the Sheriff did not perform these duties of his office when he refused
to carry out the Court order to evict the tenants of the International
Hotel. We do not object to his differing in personal opinion with the
Court but, in our opinion, his oath of office does not permit him the
privilege of the public action he took in his capacity as Sheriff.
Despite the fact that it apparently was motivated by the Sheriff's
stated concern for public safety and to avoid threatening riots, we
are critical of his performance in this specific situation.


There were 18 incidents of escape involving 20 prisoners in
the ten months prior to August 1976. The breakdown is as follows: 5
from temporary security wards used by the department, 5 from the
Courts, 3 from County Jail No. 2, two from County Jail No. 4, and 4
from County Jail No. 6. Three of the escapees were minimum security
immates who were trustees. Fifteen of the twenty inmates had been
apprehended. The numerous escapes were attributed to staff shortages,
poor physical facilities, employee negligence and their lack of exper-
ience, and lack of any written policies and procedures. As a result
of the escapes, the Sheriff implemented a fugitive detail which has
been fairly successful in apprehension of escapees. Memoranda and
directives have been sent to administrative staff and employees and
there have been more inspections by the Under sheriff. Additionally,
Manual of Policies and Procedures which defines in detail procedures
to be used in the handling of prisoners has been completed. During
the first half of 1977 » there have been no escapes.


County Jail No. 1, the men's facility located at 850 Bryant
Street, was found to be in very clean order. Food was properly stored,
premises in a very sanitary condition. Recently, portable telephones
were installed through a grant from the Federal Achievement Fund.


SHERIFF (continued)

Inmates are permitted to make a limited number of telephone calls.
Food being served appeared to provide a well-balanced diet, and the
menu for the week appeared adequate. Because there are no central
dining areas in any of the men's facilities, serving of the food does
present problems in keeping the food warm by the time all prisoners
are served from wheel carts.

The institutions located at the Hall of Justice have no
facilities for exercise or recreation. County Jail #1 reportedly has
the lowest suicide rate in the United States for any correctional
institution. This has been attributed mainly to the system used in
placement of prisoners, and the rotating of them between the cells
alleviating boredom.


This facility was found to be very clean. The storage area
for food was in very good condition and well organized. We were ad-
vised that, through a Federal Grant, the gun storage area has been
relocated. Laundry facilities were adequate. Food preparation was
done under the best of sanitary conditions. Plans have been discussed
for a new visitors room, but funds were not appropriated.


This facility was found to be very clean and orderly. A
work and education furlough program for the Women's County Jail Pris-
oners at 850 Bryant Street was started. This is similar to the men's
Furlough Program. The women in the program are being given freedom
by day to look for employment, to work at their present jobs or to
receive further eduction in order to prepare themselves for the time
when they are released. They spend nights at the Hall of Justice
facility. The Women's Work Furlough Program is a segregated part of
the regular women's section. One tank" is now a living room. The
floor is carpeted, has a TV set, sofa, chairs, library, and draperies
hang on a window. This has been accomplished through the efforts of
volunteers. Another "tank" is a homey dining room. A former large
cell has been transformed into a comfortable dormitory with bunk beds
covered with colorful bedspreads. Inmates selected for this program
are very carefully screened by the Rehabilitation Director. Inmates
who have a history of violent crime, drug abuse, history of escapes
or assault are banned from participating in this program. Six deputies
supervise this furlough program with the assistance of additional
civilian personnel.


This institution is badly in need of at least four showers.
The showers are now located on the ground floor and cannot be adequately


SHERIFF (continued)

supervised because of their distance from other facilities. There is
presently no communication system between the shower area and the main
areas of the jail. In order to accomplish relocation it would mean
forfeiting two cells on each tier, but this would provide greater
supervision and safety for the inmates. The facility is immaculate,
and the cells are artfully decorated with curtains and bedspreads
which were made by the inmates.


On July 1, 1976, the Sheriff's Department assumed respon-
sibility for the operation of the City Prison formerly under the
supervision of the San Francisco Police Department. The facility was
turned over in a most deplorable condition. Because of the build up
of grime the floors looked like asphalt; only after much scraping,
scrubbing and cleaning by volunteers did the painted floor show through,
Walls, lighting and plumbing were in dreadful condition. New lighting
should be installed. Upon assuming responsibility for this facility,
the Sheriff's Department was not allocated needed additional personnel.
The members of the Grand Jury had an opportunity to view slides of the
City Prison which verify the conditions existing prior to July, 1976.
Also badly needed are bedding, mattresses and clothing. Prisoners
must wear their own clothes and often have to remain in them for a
long period of time. If funds cannot be appropriated for clothing
for this facility, perhaps some appeal should be made to the public
for donations of used clothing.

A new system of booking slips was implemented in order to
avoid costly repetition when inmates are transferred to the County
Jail. Despite progress made many changes are still required in
processing prisoners which often takes up to 12 hours. Those people
arrested by the Police Department but who have not made a court appear-
ance are placed in a holding cell with only a concrete form bench for
their comfort. We found this facility appalling. Now that the
Sheriff's Department has assumed responsibility for this function we
hope that Intake will be handled with greater efficiency and that some
provision will be made for the comfort and safety of those individuals
who have been arrested but not brought to trial.


The relatively low salary schedule of the Sheriff's Depart-
ment compared to other counties encourages deputies to look elsewhere
for employment after training by this department. Many people with
advanced degrees are now applying for positions as Deputies. This
Grand Jury feels that improvement in prisoner care during the past
several years has contributed to the interest of more highly educated
persons in the department. We cannot attract these qualified people.
The department has recruited a number of minorities and women.


SHERIFF (continued)


The City Health Department earlier reported that jail food
quality had fallen below minimum State custodial standards causing
dietary deficiencies. The Health Director has implemented an in-
service training course for cooks and the Food Manager. Certain in-
mates require special diets which are prescribed for them by the Jail
Physician. Servings of milk and milk products, and meat and meat
substitutes were not available in the necessary amounts. A recent
decision by the City Attorney Thomas O'Connor rules that the Sheriff
can legally transfer food services in San Francisco's jails to a private
management firm. The Sheriff contends the proposal could be accom-
plished at no extra cost and would lead to better menus and management.
The next step would be to obtain approval from the Board of Supervisors.
In recent months food services have improved.


The Work Furlough Program has been funded through Federal
Grants which enables non-violent offenders to be employed in the
community and assisted in rehabilitation outside the environment of
the jail. The Sheriff states this has been a successful program.


Due to a cut by the Supervisors' Finance Committee, it was
necessary for the Sheriff to request supplemental funds for pest
control. The Committee's rationale in slashing the funds was that,
instead of having a commercial firm do the exterminating as in the
past, it could be done by the regular Stationary Engineers in the
various facilities. The Stationary Engineers did not have the nec-
essary spraying machines and it was discovered that they would require
a certificate from the State Pest Control Board. Originally the depart-
ment had requested $1100 for cockroach abatement at San Bruno Jail,
but this was slashed to $200 by the Finance Committee. Thereafter,
at San Bruno Jail, cockroaches were found in the cell tiers and on the
ceilings, would crawl over the inmates when they were asleep, and,
occasionally would be found in the inmates' food. The Sheriff requested,
an additional $2000 in emergency funds because the cockroaches had
reached epidemic proportions and the Board of Supervisors Finance Commit-
ee recommended the Sheriff's Department receive $1400.


The Department of Public Health was assigned the responsibility
for the medical care of prisoners in March 1975* Medical services to
prisoners are provided by three separate but related units: the Jail
Medical Service, the Criminal Justice Unit, and San Francisco General
Hospital. The Jail Medical Service provides medical, nursing, pharmacy


SHERIFF (continued)

and routine medical services to prisoners at the Hall of Justice jails
and the San Francisco County Jail at San Bruno. The Criminal Justice
Unit responds to court-ordered psychiatric evaluations and provides
psychiatric services to prisoners. San Francisco General Hospital
provides backup emergency, outpatient services and inpatient services
for prisoners. Dr. William Mandel, Director of Health Services at the
Jails, reports the attitude and cooperation of the Jail staff as

Facilities for medical care are poorly equipped. The infir-
mary at San Bruno needs remodeling and funds have been approved for
this. Requests for funds for a psychiatric infirmary at the Hall of
Justice and remodeling the present infirmary at the Hall of Justice
were deleted by the Mayor's Office.


Recently a Print Shop was established at San Bruno Jail #2.
With instructors from the Community College District, many forms used
in the department are now being printed there. This project provides
training for the inmates so that when they are released they have a
better chance of employment. While assignments to this project are
limited because of space and equipment, we were advised that ten men
had found employment through the training received at this facility.


There is a total lack of recreational equipment at the mens '
facilities in the County Jails. This is a deplorable situation which
must be remedied. Funds for some of this equipment are available and
come from the Inmate's Welfare Fund rather than tax monies. This fund
is generated by profits from a small sundries store in the Jail.

There is also an inadequate number of library books. A
possible solution may be donations from interested community groups
of paperback books.

Miss Suzanne E. Perry
Carlos E. Xavier

Miss Irene G. O'Neill, Chairman



A substantial amount of criticism regarding real property
assessment procedure has been directed by the news media, or by
individuals representing the media, at the Assessor's Office. In
our opinion this criticism, and oftentimes abuse, is unwarranted
or at the very least misdirected. Properties are assessed by
methods generally accepted by professional appraisers. State law
requires that assessed value of property be placed at 25? of
reasonable market value. This is done. The activities of this
office appear, from our investigation, to be carried out in a
professional manner and in reasonable compliance with State law.

It is obvious that residential properties, particularly single
family dwellings that have a reasonably high turn-over rate, can easily
be appraised at a ratio to their current market value since that
value is established frequently. In general, this is done in the
Assessor's Office by review of sales or property on a continuing
basis. As a practical matter the review affects assessed value
several years after direct sales. In theory the process is
reasonable and equitable and lags sales for two reasons. It is
impossible to maintain the pace of review of market values and
adjustment of assessed values in all areas of the City equivalent
to skyrocketing transfer of property. It is also more equitable
to follow general neighborhood trends than to establish market
values in proportion to isolated individual sales. This reasoning
appears equitable to this Grand Jury and does provide some protec-
tion to the homeowner.

In the case of commercial and industrial properties, the
method of appraisal is somewhat more complex. Equivalent or even
similar property sales are not available for comparison. The
Assessor's staff became dependent — as was noted in a series of
newspaper articles — on the capital gain received by the operation
of the facility, and more importantly on the expertise of the
appraiser. The method Is a professionally acceptable one and has
provided resulting values close to, but usually slightly above,
sales prices of equivalent property.

Questions have been raised concerning the valuation of
vacant commercial property. In fact, a minimum value Is placed on
this type of property, by separately assessing the value of land
for which comparable market values can be obtained.

There Is continuing concern that the budgeting process
and the Civil Service does not allow for adjustment of inequities
in salary structure for employees on the Assessor's professional


ASSESSOR (continued)

staff. There is equal concern for adequate training for appraisers.
The Department management feels that salary limitations make it
difficult to recruit trained appraisers. It has become necessary,
therefore, to establish a Real Property Appraisal Trainee Class,
a combination of formal appraisal education and on-the-job training,
to produce a competent staff.

This Grand Jury finds that the Assessor is conducting his
responsibility in accordance with his charge and up to the potential
of his staff. It is worthy to note that if criticism is necessary,
it should be directed to the State law that requires that single
family residences be assessed at the same rate as commercial or
industrial property, or to those that control the local spending
that is dependent upon property taxes. This Civil Grand Jury
encourages the City administration to work with State legislators
to modify existing laws in order that some property tax relief be
provided to all residential property owners.


Treasurer Thomas C. Scanlon, is accountable for the
safe custody of all money and securities belonging to the City and
County of San Francisco. His staff handles all daily receipts
and disbursements of City money and is responsible for deposit
and investment of public funds. Mr. Scanlon, Mr. Gin L. So, the
Chief Assistant Treasurer, and Mr. Gerald P. Richardson, the
Investment Specialist, were very courteous and helpful in the
investigation of this department by the Grand Jury.

We have viewed the operation of the computerized
Moneymax System and Telerate System. These systems offer, either
on video terminals or on typewritten output, up-to-date price
information from a current computerized data bank. They rank
alternative investments by rate of return and have the capability
to account for and report on investments. These systems are
considered as advanced as any cash management programs available
to City and County treasuries.

The Moneymax System has been in use since early 1976, and
under the able operation of Mr. Richardson, has produced excellent
results, reflected in increased earnings on investments from about
5. 3 % to about 5.8*. The Telerate System is a new addition,
donated for a free six month trial period by a Los Angeles brokerage
firm. It is now on rental at a rate of $350 per month for those


TREASURER (continued)

months in which a specified minimum of transactions is not
recorded with that brokerage firm. The rental has not been a
determining factor in the business dealings with that firm.

As a result of our investigation, this Grand Jury believes
that this office is operated in a well organized and efficient
manner. There has been the suggestion made that an additional
teller-clerk might assist in reducing the long lines waiting to
cash checks and warrants, thereby increasing efficiency. Given
the current fiscal situation of the City, we cannot recommend the
additional position solely for the purpose of reducing waiting
lines for the recipient's convenience.

Stelios M. Andrew
Francis J. Murphy

Mary B. Donnelly, Chairman



For a number of years, problems have arisen due to the lack
of adequate courtroom space in San Francisco. In 1971 > a part of the
California Hall on Polk Street was leased by the City, on a temporary
basis only, to house two additional courtrooms. This was necessary
because of the appointment of two Superior Court Judges whose services
were required due to the magnitude of criminal matters before the
Superior Court. This arrangement has proven to be less than desirable
for a number of reasons including the difficulty of coordinating poten-
tial jurors between the three buildings where trials are held. Four

Online LibraryCalifornia. Grand Jury (San Francisco)Civil Grand Jury reports (Volume 1976-77) → online text (page 10 of 32)