prison.jpgAt a time when prison overcrowding takes up a significant chunk of California’s long list of problems (to the point where it is taking the blame for Lindsay Lohan’s early release from prison–but come on, you knew she wouldn’t serve the full 90-day sentence regardless), San Francisco jail cells have suddenly become emptier.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the cause for the lack of prisoners is directly related to the crime lab scandal in which a technician working there was accused of stealing evidence. Since the news of the scandal broke in March, 750 pending drug cases have been dismissed, leading to a 21 percent drop in jail population (which amounts to 450 fewer prisoners).

Sheriff Michael Hennessy told the Chronicle that there is a correlation between the empty prison cells and the drug lab case.

“The timing seems to make it obvious that the reduction in jail population is related,” Hennessy said.

However, SFPD Commander John Loftus told CBS 5’s Phil Matier that they are “completely over the issues with the crime lab.” Rather he attributes the mystery to the Police Department’s report that overall crime has decreased within San Francisco.

“We’re very fortunate that crime is down in San Francisco here,” Loftus told CBS 5. “When crime is down, arrests are down.”

The Department’s recent CompStat meeting indicated that not all crime has decreased, however, as reported by the Appeal last week.

So do you believe the drug lab scandal has created a domino effect that lead to the drop in San Francisco’s prisoner population, or that the Police Department is “completely over the issues with the crime lab,” as Commander Loftus argues?

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