Commentary: Boudin is Under Fire in San Francisco, But POA Is Making A lot of This Stuff Up

Boudin announcing the policy back in February 2020

By David Greenwald

When Chesa Boudin was elected in late 2019 as San Francisco District, he did so promising transformative change in the criminal legal system.  While 2020 was an odd year with the pandemic, he delivered a number of critical reforms including ending status enhancements – charging gang enhancements as well as some of the prior prison sentences.

Early this year, since a parolee ran down and killed two pedestrians, Boudin has been under fire and many of his enemies – police officers, tough on crime advocates, Trumpists and others have criticized his policies.

But a lot of the criticism is misplaced.

ABC 7 in San Francisco, for example noted, “San Francisco police are still looking for the gunman who opened fire on a busy street last night injuring eight people. Authorities now believe a dice game was the motive for the shooting.”

In tweeting the article, the San Francisco POA, a group that put huge amounts of money into defeating Boudin in 2019, claimed: “Gun violence is out of control SF. Nothing terrorizes a neighborhood more than the sounds of gunfire and the sights of the aftermath. That’s why Boudin’s policy of refusing any gun enhancements threatens the peace and safety our residents deserve.”

The article itself from ABC 7 never mentions the DA or DA policy – but the POA attempts to rachet it to attack Boudin.

However, what they fail to note: gun violence is in fact on the rise everywhere in the country – both in areas that have seen reform measures, but also areas that have not.  A recent survey found that cities run by Republican Mayors have seen just as much in the way of increased violence as cities run by blue mayors.

But more importantly, while Boudin has curtailed the use of status enhancements, he has not refused to charge gun enhancements.

As Kate Chatield tweeted on Wednesday, “This is false on multiple levels but to start with the most basic fact…..there is no such policy.”

In the policy put out a year ago, February 22, 2020, DA Boudin announced, “any prior-strike status enhancements… will not be charged and pending strike-prior enhancements will be dismissed.”

He also announced, that Prop 8 or “nickel-prior” enhancements “will not be charged and pending strike-prior enhancements will be dismissed.”

Finally, STEP Act enhancements – i.e. gang enhancements – “will not be charged and pending enhancements will be dismissed.”

I was at the press conference last February just before the shutdown where Boudin announced this.  He specifically said, it does “not affect the decision to charge crimes where a prior conviction is an element of the offense (i.e., felon in possession of a firearm, driving under the influence etc.), nor does it affect evidence code provisions that allow for introduction of prior conduct.”

Chesa Boudin added that in cases where they believe that the base crime is not sufficient, “we have discretion to make exceptions.”

I confirmed with Boudin this morning.  He told me that they have “no policy on it at all.”  He said, “We charge conduct enhancements.”

He added, “My policy is just not charging status enhancements.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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