Twin Peaks killing raises questions on computer program that evaluates inmates

The recent robbery and killing of a 71-year-old man at Twin Peaks is raising some serious questions about the criminal justice system in San Francisco, in particular a computer program that evaluates inmates and whether they should be released from jail.

The program, designed to determine if criminals are still a threat to public safety, helped set free one of the two suspects in the Twin Peaks case.

Just five days after 19-year old Lamonte Mims was released from jail on a gun charge, police say he killed San Francisco film scout and photographer Edward French for his camera at Twin Peaks on July 16th.

Those in law enforcement say Mims never should have been let out.

"Somebody has to be held accountable for making that error. Somebody made a mistake," said former SFPD

Chief Tony Ribera, who currently heads USF's International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership.

Judge Sharon Reardon granted Mims' release using what's called a PSA or public safety assessment. It's a score tabulated by Pretrial Diversion, which assigns points, based on an inmate's prior criminal history.

Based on his age, prior convictions and other factors, Mim earned a score of six, which landed him in the orange zone. That means Mims could be released but with conditions.

KTVU has learned that Mims should have received two more points for a prior incarceration in San Mateo County, which would have put him in the red zone. The red zone translates to no release from jail.

"I know the idea [of the PSA] is to keep poor people out of jail, and I certainly think poor people should be treated fairly and have the same protections as wealthier people, there's no question about that, but this system doesn't fix that, this system puts people at risk," said Ribera.

Under the PSA, designed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, probation is not factored into an inmate's score, misdemeanors are assigned the same point value as felonies and convicted felons' scores aren't impacted if they "carry" a firearm, only if they "use" it.

"When you commit three violent offenses and it counts the same for 10 violent offenses, there's something wrong with that," said Ribera.

French's family has blamed the judge for making the final call, but court transcripts dated July 11th show the court asks Assistant SFDA Ryan King, " What is your position with regard to Mr. Mims' custody status?"

"Your honor, I've reviewed the public safety assessment," he replies, "It appears to take into consideration all of the materials in my file... in the event that Mr. Mims is released, he should have to report at least initially four times a week."

"When we present these packages in court though they do not stand alone, they are part of a much larger packet, that includes criminal history and rap sheets," said Nancy Rubin, the Interim Executive Director of Pretrial Diversion.

Rubin admitted that the score was calculated improperly but she says PSA is merely one tool available to the courts.

"It's been in implementation for about 16 months and it's used in 29 other jurisdictions with great success," she said.

Sheriff Vicki Hennessy has called for a meeting next Wednesday with Pretrial Diversion, the District Attorney, SFPD, the Public Defender, Adult Probation, and the courts next week to figure out what went wrong and what improvements need to be made to the system.

"Just as police officers are held accountable for their actions," said Ribera, "district attorneys, judges, public defenders, we all have to be held accountable."

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories