By Alana Bleimann
SAN FRANCISCO – When San Francisco’s District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, ran for office in November 2019, he focused his campaign on ending mass incarceration with restorative justice models, rather than punitive incarceral methods.
Various social media accounts have called into question the validity of his progressive models after former San Francisco parolee Troy McAlister allegedly hit two women with his car on New Year’s Eve.
For accounts like @TruthAboutChesa who believe the DA should be held accountable and should throw a murder suspect in prison, Boudin’s office poses a counter method that would hold that specific individual accountable to the city at large.
Titled “restorative justice,” it repairs criminal harm directly to the victim(s), victim’s families, and/or the city at large. In this case, it is the goal of Boudin to restore harmony to the families of the victims, Hanako Abe and Elizabeth Platt.
In an article by KQED, Chesa Boudin stated, “[B]ut what we’re focused on is three things going forward. First of all, supporting the families through the grief. Second of all, holding Mr. McAlister, the man we believe caused this harm, accountable for what he did.
“And third, bringing together all the different law enforcement agencies who were involved in supervising or policing or holding Mr. McAlister accountable and looking at what we did, what we could have done, what we should have done in ensuring that going forward, we don’t have agencies operating in silos, but that we have better communication.”
The harm has been done and cannot be reversed, and working closely with the victim’s families is one of the best ways to restore strength back to the city, the DA said, adding when someone commits a crime, they are doing more than simply breaking the law—they are causing emotional pain to families, communities, and cities at large.
It is no myth that San Francisco has been affected by the emotional impact of crime, which is precisely why Boudin’s efforts are so centered around restorative justice—he knows the positive impact it can make for a historically crime-ridden city like San Francisco.
The DA knows incarceration fails to address the root causes of crime through punitive measures, and punishment and accountability are not the same.
The U.S. is known to punish people at an extraordinary high rate but those same people often return to prison after re-offending, and two-thirds of offenders become repeat offenders within three years of their release, according to Boudin in comments at a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday
Throwing an alleged murderer, who is only a suspect, right into prison for life does not deter others from committing the same crime nor does it teach the offender why what they’ve done is wrong. And, most importantly, it does not work to emotionally heal the victim(s), whether that’s one individual or a whole city, Boudin said.
San Francisco has begun to heal from crime since Boudin’s first day in office in January of 2020.
According to SFgov.org, both the violent crime rates and property crime rates have dropped drastically since January of last year.
In just five months (December 2019 to April 2020), property crime rates dropped by 1,887 total crimes. This accounts for the pandemic, as strict stay-at-home orders began around March 15, 2020.
Boudin has been focusing on community care with the recent implementation of the Community Liaisons program. According to SFBayView online newspaper, this program “teams…District Attorney’s Office staff with each district in the city… [to be] directly responsive to the district’s residents about specific needs that emerge within the district.”
“We need to treat every arrest as an opportunity for intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation, that is the only way we are going to break the cycle,” Boudin stated in a campaign video that was posted on YouTube in March of 2019.
“We can give victims the voice,” he added.
Alana Bleimann is a junior at the University of San Francisco majoring in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice Studies. She is from Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the team leader on the San Francisco Project.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: