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Public safety activist Lewis Roubal has been posting mug shots from local arrests in his Facebook group Santa Cruz Hall of Shame.

Public safety activist Lewis Roubal has been posting mug shots from local arrests in his Facebook group Santa Cruz Hall of Shame.

[Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part story about recidivism and public safety in Santa Cruz. Part two.html runs next week.]

Lewis Roubal always liked to keep up on who was getting arrested for what in Santa Cruz. But when the 55-year-old retired contractor started noticing the same faces over and over again, and couldn’t keep up with how often they were getting arrested, he figured it was time for a Hall of Shame.

Last fall, Roubal, who describes himself as a “visual thinker,” started a Facebook group called Santa Cruz Hall of Shame, and began posting mug shots from recent arrests—all of them available on mugshotssantacruz.com, a free website that operates on advertising revenue.

“This is our way to let business owners know,” says Roubal, who has joined me for a chat at Woodstock’s Pizza along with his friend James Burtnett. “We’re not saying all these people are guilty. It’s just mug shots. This way, business owners can see who’s walking into their store. They might want to keep an extra watch out.”

On his tablet, Roubal has the mug shots of Fidela Curiel, who has been arrested 10 times since Aug. 24—including a two-day span when she was arrested three times. In the first one, she has a smile and a striped pink top. Her highlighted hair is brushed off to the side. Santa Cruz Police booked her under suspicion of being high on methamphetamine and possessing drug paraphernalia. Her hair color changed a few times over the month. By Jan. 10—her most recent arrest—a picture shows her face red and puffy, her hair and clothes disheveled. She is looking down.

Roubal, who has brown hair, glasses and a smile that hardly ever leaves his face, says the group’s focus is primarily on repeat offenders that he says are draining the Santa Cruz Police Department’s resources. Between January 2011 and April 2013, 146 people accounted for 3,598 arrests, according to the SCPD.

“It’s just amazing the revolving door that our court system has, and there’s nothing we can do about it because the judges are running unopposed,” Roubal says. “They put their name there, and no one opposes them, or they get appointed. Everyone has to have something to answer to in life. That’s the way I feel. Checks and balances.”

“It’s not the police. The police arrest them,” adds Burtnett, who grew up in Florida and Georgia, and has a Southern accent. A Facebook friend invited Burnett into the group, and he’s been a frequent poster ever since. “It’s the judges that let them go after the police put them in jail. That’s the big problem. As you can see, they get arrested. The police have no problem with arrests. It’s just that once they get them, the judge says, ‘see you later’—out the door they go. Then they come back the next day, or later on that day.”

When it comes to Facebook, Roubal doesn’t just post local mug shots, which are public record. People also post news stories and celebrity mug shots for Justin Bieber and the much-maligned Elf the Shelf Christmas toy. With the group currently at 600 members, Roubal says he doesn’t care if it ever gets 7,000 people like Take Back Santa Cruz. “My ego’s not like that,” he says. He’s focused on spreading awareness.

But whether the local business owners Roubal says he is looking out for need that awareness spread to them depends on whom you ask. For many, it’s simply not practical enough to be useful.

“Not a bad idea in principle,” says Lou Caviglia, co-owner of Louie’s Cajun Kitchen. “But as far as checking these things and worrying about them, the actual using of it would be overwhelming.”

Roubal doesn’t plan to give up his crime watch any time soon.

“There’s nothing we can do about the court system. It’s just making people more knowledgeable about what is out there,” he says. “It’s all public knowledge.”

[Next week: What’s the real cause of Santa Cruz’s recidivism? Judges respond.]

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  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html A. Local

    I don’t use Facebook and don’t plan on checking out the group’s page for myself but I certainly hope the admin is only post repeat offenders and not everyone who’s unlucky enough to have a run in with the police.  With a name like “Hall of Shame” the assertion that the you “aren’t saying everyone’s guilty” is a rather flimsy statement.  Public awareness can quickly become gossip driven “witch hunt”.  Do we really need another place to sit and judge another’s situation without any real knowledge online?

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Beverly Young

    I am very interested in how the judges respond. I would hate to be a cop here.It must be most frustrating. What good does it do to arrest them when they are out on the street almost immediately.
    Government moves so slowly in finding a resolution and the costs are extremely high in both money and the safety of the citizens.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Rachel

    I wonder whether it has ever occurred to Mr. Roubal that people are arrested and then released because they are not guilty of a crime and are no threat to anyone. Or that certain groups of people are arrested more frequently than others—people of color, poor, homeless, addicted, and mentally ill people among them. Or that there are social forces and serious levels of trauma that bear down on people that cause them to become addicted in the first place.

    Being arrested is not evidence of having committed a crime or of being a “threat to society.” Judges and juries exist in order to determine guilt or innocence; I don’t recall Facebook pages being named in the Constitution for this purpose. Someone who has been arrested is not automatically an “offender.” A basic civics course would make that much clear.

    And publicly shaming people does not build community; it fractures it with fear and judgment.  This article has nothing to do with “recidivism,” since it’s only about people who have been arrested multiple times, not people who have actually been convicted of a crime. Sloppy, biased, irresponsible reporting and “activism” all around.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Kathy Cheer

    GOTCHA! or maybe, GET A LIFE! came to mind when reading about local watch dogs, Roubal & Burnett.  What a telling photo of Mr. Roubal seated at a computer screen with a somewhat malevolent smile on his face.  This is what happens when people have too much time on their hands; they spy on their neighbors or spend hours tweeting people they don’t even know.  Sometimes this can lead to unsavory behavior and I feel R & R’s antics fall into this category.  How much good does this kind of “conscientious” community work actually realize?

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Joe Kerr

    It is easy to use a coalation in opposition to control bizarre behavior in digital statesmanship. While there have been some interesting challenges to state power,  in the Arab Spring, elsewhere it hasn’t been so easy for such a coalitions to have much of an effect.  Can you say Parole violations and truely generate a response from the middle and upper standard of citizen.  Clearly you have demonstrated remorse in your negative attrocity.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Jeffry Helms

    Why are we paying for the healthcare of the peruvian racketeering groups, their not doing their job AT ALL, if anything, their stepping on constitutional rights of the poor and victims of the std/drug epidemic and committing worse felonies than the homeless crowd-with profession fraud, wannabe racketeering and property racketeering by washing narcotic money in real estate—Lets send the peruvians to the Medi-cal estate recovery plan—IT’LL DO THEM GOOD!!!
     

    look at the assualt,date rape murder stats—with the std spreading and rape—ITS LEGAL TO MURDER AND RAPE THE KIDS IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY!!

    http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=62

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Dr. John Colby

    It’s terribly inhumane to bash people arrested for drug addiction. They’re human and vulnerable. Tarring them with a Scarlet Letter is very damaging. Watch this video about the fundamental cause of drug addiction. Society is failing them not the other way around.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/3/addiction

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html JBK

    …a lawyers dream!!  the libel!!!  smile!

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html DBS

    “Society is failing them”???

    No John, YOU are the one that has failed society by refusing to work, and collecting Welfare since 1992.

    It’s career parasites like YOU that drag the rest of us down.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html Donald B

    Lewis Roubal’s Hall of Shame is just another cyber vigilante group that has cropped up in Santa Cruz.  Supposedly to aid business owners,  Lewis’s Facebook group is closed, filled with his TBSC buddies as well as friends, family and perhaps alts of SCPD officers. 

    What wasn’t addressed in this piece was the question, who isn’t allowed in this group?  Homeless people?  Known critics of SCPD?  What about someone who is pro-needle exchange or an avid advocate something that TBSC is against?

    The answers to these questions will tell anyone who is actually looking that this is yet another shadowy closed group looking to use fear to alter Santa Cruz.

    You want to talk their real agenda? These are the same people who set their sights on declaring downtown artists and musicians as blight and in need of citations; these are the same people who would rather auction off bicycles than give them to poor kids.

    • Michael folk

      You are so right. I have been banned from both sites TBSC and SC Hall of Shame. If you have respectfully have a different opinion than them on anything they just remove you from the site. They do not want ideas or solutions only people to agree with them that the undesirables need to be driven out. I was just banned today after James Burnett asked me how I would like it if he came and took a crap and peed on my front door. I pointed out that I thought his comment was vile , and I was blocked. I think that tells you all u need to know about this group.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/news/santa_cruzs_hall_of_shame.html molly rodgers

    To the people who say this page is rediculous and it not right for making fun of the people on here. re:A.Local,Rachel,Kathy Cheer,Dr,John Colby,Donald B.,etc..This group IS the shame.I was on the page &happen; to know alot of ppl being that im from Santa Cruz.I was criticized for it.I was told the group isnt to put down the ppl in mugshots but point out repeat offenders but thats exactly what they do.They critisize and judge &anyone; who somewhat defend the ppl THEY get criticized.This group is pathetic and hypocritical.They deleted me off of the page for defending myself.If youre not in their “inner circle” u get ganged up on.They r pathetic hypocrites that DO need lives…

    • Santa Cruz Loco

      You were always using vulgarity in the group, starting fights with others, and just in general being a troll. You deserved to be removed!

      • Jayboy

        Hey, SC LOCO. Hope you are having a killer memorial day weekend! I was seemingly blocked from the SC Hall of Shame group today, for no apparent reason. I wrote to Lewis'(the admin) FB profile to see what happened, and now I appear to be blocked there? No response. No idea what happened. Strange. I always felt I was tactful and communicated well…anyways… Take care.. Jason Mariani

  • AMP

    Hint: don’t watch Fox News if you’re a Liberal & don’t join this group on Facebook unless you’re judgmental and your sh*t don’t stink. I never engaged in putting down all the mugshots of people I know who struggle with addictions & because I didn’t jump on the hateful bandwagon, I was deleted & blocked. Don’t join the group if you have your own opinion or have ever struggled with addiction. This Facebook page will show you how hateful and truly ugly these “normal” citizens really are. I pray for the miserable normies, just as I pray for the addicts who are still suffering.

  • Michael folk

    I was following the site for a while, but just as the TBSC site if you say something they do not agree with you are banned. I recently politely disagreed with James on this site H e responded by asking how would I like it if he came and defecated and urinated on my front door, when I expressed that I thought his comment was vile his comment was removed , but I was the one blocked from the site.

  • zena

    The same thing hapened to me. They think they r judge n jury. All I did was defend a person I know. The sight should not b allowed. They don’t care who’s lives they could posibly. The sight is ran very irrisponsibly.