SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has launched a program that is aiming to get low level crimes out of the criminal court system and help offenders clear their records faster.

The Neighborhood Prosecution Program will get the community involved in doling out punishment, as each police station will assign a prosecutor, who decides on punishment for low-level offenders, ranging from community service, classes or dismissal.

“There are multiple goals here. We want to address community issues here that often do not get addressed fully, to make sure that we have quick resolutions to neighborhood problems,” Gascón said. “Also, there is a reduction in cost.”

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Gascón said that neighborhood courts cost about a fifth of what prosecuting the crimes in criminal court would cost.

He said this first of its kind program is important because minor offenses like vandalism, theft and trespassing often drag through the system for months, with no real follow-up or accountability for the convicted.

“We know that what we’re doing today is not working well,” he said. “Our recidivism rate in our current system is about 70 percent.”

Pilot programs are being launched at San Francisco’s Mission and Bayview police stations, with the ultimate goal to make it a citywide initiative.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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