SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Black and brown people disproportionately arrested, prosecuted and punished in the criminal justice system. A backlog of defendants waiting for their day in court. Concern over a return to the war on drug era. 

These are some of the topics covered in KRON4’s one-on-one interview with the San Francisco District Public Defender Mano Raju. The District Attorney tells KRON4, “there are hundreds waiting in jail for their day in court and more on the outside.”

The constitutional right to a speedy trial has reached a crisis level in criminal courts at the Hall of Justice in the City of San Francisco, according to the city’s elected public defender Mano Raju. He is raising his voice about the issue in the wake of newly appointed San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins taking over the DA’s office.

Public Defender Raju tells KRON4, “a lot of the systems that prosecutors work on are inherited systems. So, regardless of who the district attorney is, it’s our job to fully see our clients, and to fight for them.”

When we are talking about defendants, it is a generic term. In the city of San Francisco who are we talking about? Public Defender Raju says, “over 50% of jail is black in San Francisco. In a city that has less than 5% of a black population.”

He says another crisis, many of those waiting for their day in court are facing drug charges. DA Brooke Jenkins said in a public statement, “I am committed to making sure that we restore accountability with respect to drug dealing in San Francisco.”

KRON On is streaming news live now

Mano Raju says he hears echoes of what he calls the failed war on drugs era returning with the new DA. He says, “that’s a dual crisis. Very concerned about that.”