KPFA News: Pushback in Defense of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi



Suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, left, with retired San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessy, after Hennessy endorsed Mirkarimi in the 2011 Sheriff's race to elect his successor. Photo courtesy of Luke Thomas

KPFA News, 03.24.2012

Social justice advocates are asking what is to become of San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey's groundbreaking legacy of redemptive rather than retributive justice, if newly elected Sheriff Mirkarimi is forced from office?

Upon his retirement, Sheriff Hennessey endorsed then Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to take his place. After Mirkarimi's decision to plead guilty to a misdemeanor in a domestic violence trial, which would allow him to legally remain in office, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this conversation with Hennessey:

"My opinion is that he should remain in the job and be given a chance to show what he can do with the office. I think he's being punished accordingly by the justice system," said Hennessey, who has been lauded by victims' advocacy groups over the years for domestic violence services and programs that began under his watch. While admitting guilt to the crime of false imprisonment is serious, he added, it should not automatically disqualify Mirkarimi from holding office. "During my time as sheriff, I hired many people with criminal records who have done outstanding jobs for the department," Hennessey said. "Oftentimes, you have to look at the whole issue of rehabilitation and redemption."  





​KPFA Weekend News Host Cameron Jones: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi this week, after Mirkarimi brought his San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, left, and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right costly and sensational trial on domestic violence charges to an end by pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor charge, false imprisonment, which, in his case, seemed to mean preventing his wife Eliana Lopez from leaving the house during a New Year's argument. Lopez has repeatedly asserted that her husband did not abuse her. Mayor Lee demanded that Mirkarimi resign, even though the misdemeanor conviction does not legally oblige him to do so. When Mirkarimi refused, Lee launched an untested procedure to force him out. If the City's Ethics Commission refers a decision to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, ousting Mirkarimi will require 9 of 11 votes there. KPFA's Ann Garrison has this report on the pushback against Mayor Lee, in support of Mirkarimi.


KPFA/Ann Garrison: San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has been a longtime champion of redemption Legal scholar Michele Alexander's book, which Ross Mirkarimi quoted at his inauguration, when he said that incarceration is the new Jim Crow. and re-entry programs for ex-offenders, as was his predecessor, Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who served as San Francisco's Sheriff from 1980 until his retirement last year. Groundbreaking programs that Hennessey initiated, including substance abuse counseling, alternatives to incarceration, education in prison, and anti-violence counseling, became models in prisons and jails throughout the country, and won a Harvard Kennedy School of Government award. Hennessey endorsed Mirkarimi in November's election and has said he wants to see him remain in office, and, many San Franciscans now see Hennessey's unmatched legacy at stake in this struggle. During last year's Sheriff's race, Paul Miyamoto, the second place finisher, and candidate Chris Cunnie accused Mirkarimi of coddling prisoners.
At his inauguration Mirkarimi vowed to build on Hennessey's legacy, quoting Michele Alexander, who wrote that incarceration is the new Jim Crow. He also said that over 50% of San Francisco's jail population is African American, though fewer than 6% of its general population are, and, that this is unacceptable.  
Casa de Las Madres, the shelter and advocacy agency for women victimized by domestic violence, demanded that Sheriff Mirkarimi resign or be fired, but many women have come to his defense. They include Tami Bryant, a longtime resident of the district that Mirkarimi represented as a Supervisor, District 5, whose editorial, "Support Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi for Social Justice in San Francisco," can be found on the Indybay website.
Tami Bryant: I'm a survivor of domestic violence and I really do view this incident as a moment of dysfunction that warranted therapy, but not a crime. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor, and that does not preclude him from serving as our Sheriff.  And I also believe that because this happened off the job, this is not official misconduct. I'm worried that some, in the progressive and domestic violence communities, have lost sight of the fact that, if Ross is ousted, the City will lose so much. I really believe that people who are in our jails should be rehabilitated so that they can re-enter a community as productive citizens. I also feel that if our jails revert to a punishment and deprivation model, there will be an increase in recidivism.  
And, I believe in redemption, and nothing so egregious happened that he does not deserve a chance to serve out his term as our democratically elected Sheriff. And my major concern is that if Ross is forced out, we will lose all the ground we made after thirty years of Sheriff Hennessey's good work.  
KPFA: That was long time District 5 resident Tami Bryant on why she continues to support Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

See also:

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Paul Miyamoto For San Francisco Sheriff » SHOCK-POLITICIAN ...


Oct 19, 2011 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Sheriff's Captain Paul Miyamoto today urged ... Miyamoto was referring to Mirkarimi's recent proposals to give special ... to reward businesses with a $10000 tax credit to hire ex-offenders is already in 


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  2. Support Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi for Social Justice in San Francisco ...

    by Tami Bryant Thursday Mar 22nd, 2012 11:10 PM. I wrote this to support SheriffRoss Mirkarimi, my former district Supervisor, in San Francisco's District #5, ...
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