SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco prosecutors argued in court Tuesday that a man who has been jailed for more than a year and whose case inspired a state appeals court ruling on bail reform should remain in jail until his trial date, alleging that he is a public safety risk.
At a bail hearing for Kenneth Humphrey, 64, Deputy Public Defender Anita Nabha sought to have Humphrey released on his own recognizance and said that a residential recovery facility for seniors has already agreed to take him.
Prosecutors Allison Macbeth and Courtney Burris, however, opposed his release, pointing out the fact that previous robbery convictions, going back to the 1980s, involved him preying on vulnerable victims such as women and seniors.
In addition, prosecutors said the senior recovery facility would not be appropriate for Humphrey, since the victim in this case is a senior and the alleged crime occurred at the apartment building they both lived at, which was also a senior living facility.
Nabha contended that she would be open to having the court release Humphrey on a variety of terms, including with a stay-away order, a curfew and ankle monitoring.
In a surprise announcement, San Francisco Superior Judge Brendan Conroy said that the victim in the case has recently asked to present new evidence.
Conroy then agreed to reschedule the hearing for Thursday, when the victim is expected to give a statement.
Humphrey was arrested in May 2017 after he allegedly followed a neighbor into their Turk Street apartment, threatened him and then stole $5 and a bottle of cologne. He was charged with robbery, burglary, theft and elder abuse.
His bail had initially been set at $600,000 based on the state’s bail schedule, but a judge eventually lowered it to $350,000 after the San Francisco public defender’s office argued that the initial amount was excessive and that Humphrey did not poses a risk to the public.
In January, however, after reviewing Humphrey’s case, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco found a judge must consider the defendant’s ability to pay bail when setting bail. Setting bail higher than a person can afford effectively jails the defendant for being poor, the ruling concluded.
While San Francisco’s District Attorney George Gascon has been in favor of changing the money bail system, last month he sent a letter to the state Supreme Court asking it to allow trial courts to consider public safety when setting bail for a defendant, which he says its January ruling does not make clear.
“It’s very disappointing because District Attorney George Gascon has said again and again that he is a proponent of bail reform but if anything today, District Attorney George Gascon has shown that he is an enemy of bail reform,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Tuesday outside of court, reiterating that, if released, Humphrey would not have contact with the victim and would be supervised at the senior facility.
“That’s not enough for the district attorney. Instead they want to keep him in jail without bail and if that’s the bail reform that District Attorney George Gascon has in mind, he’s far behind the times,” Adachi said.
“We’re very committed to bail reform in San Francisco and across the state of California, but we need to make sure that bail reform is done safely and does not create an increased risk to public safety in the course of moving away from an archaic system of bail,” District Attorney’s Office
spokesman Max Szabo said outside of court.
“Our primary concern is public safety. We want to make sure that people are released pre-trial in a manner that is safe, and certainly releasing a defendant in this case where he would be surrounded by vulnerable victims … presents a concern for us,” Szabo said.
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