Commentary: Chesa Is Not a ‘Pro-Crime Prosecutor’ and Here’s Why

San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin speaking at San Quentin last July

By Alana Bleimann and Paige Laver

SAN FRANCISCO –  Over the past several weeks the fire under Chesa Boudin has intensified and become hotter. Many independent and large newspapers have made claims that attempt to bring Boudin’s office down by “exposing” the negative side of his progressive policies.

Stanford’s student-run independent online newspaper, The Stanford Review, has made several claims that are inaccurate and provide even more harm than what Chesa is allegedly already producing to the city of San Francisco.

To begin, the author of the article Checking in on Chesa Boudin, Maxwell Meyer, comes out and calls Chesa a “Comrade Gringo” who has emplored dangerous policies that encourage offenders to re-offend, one being Boudin’s decision to end the use of cash bail.

This statement is simply not true.

In January of 2020, Boudin’s office changed their policy on pretrial release including cash bail.

“For years I’ve been fighting to end this discriminatory and unsafe approach to pretrial detention,” District Attorney Chesa Boudin said. “From this point forward, pretrial detention will be based on public safety, not on wealth.”

Despite this policy without a change in state law, there are times when bail is set by judges over the objections of the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.

Last November, the voters of California voted down Proposition 25, put on the ballot by the bail industry in an attempt to repeal SB 10 approved by the legislature and governor in 2019.

Prop 25 promised to end cash bail with a replacement of computer-based risk assessment tools that are inherently discriminatory.

Prop 25 drew criticism from those seeking to end cash bail because they saw it as a replacement of bail with an assessment system that could be just as biased.

Boudin’s office continues to not seek bail in most cases and instead, believes that pretrial detention should “only be considered when the facts are evident and clear and convincing evidence shows a substantial likelihood that the defendant’s release would result in great bodily harm to others or the defendant’s flight.”

Additionally, Meyer claims that Boudin is a “Pro-Crime Prosecutor.”

This statement cannot truly be proven as all of his policies work to maintain order and safety in the city – that’s the job of the DA.

No one inherently supports crime. Everyone wants their neighborhoods to be safe.

In fact, on multiple occasions, Boudin has stressed his priorities for the city, number one being safety.

“It is essential that people…feel safe”, Boudin stated clearly in a virtual public town hall last week.

Next, Meyer addressed the drug epidemic in the city, specifically in the Tenderloin, by stating “the DA’s office has allowed these drugs to proliferate throughout the city”.

To claim that it is solely the DA’s fault that people use and overdose on drugs is questionable.

In this claim, Meyer is also insinuating that drug use is a criminal issue rather than a health issue.

People lean on drugs for a variety of reasons including poverty, mental health, familial abuse, and other structural issues perpetuated by society.

It is far from Boudin’s job to fix these structural issues, but since his time in office, he has addressed the problem of open drug use in the city.

He openly encourages the use of safe injection sites and organizations that act as a gateway to healthcare and education on drug use safety, such as The Mission Neighborhood Resource Center.

Ultimately, it is unethical to criminalize houselessness and poverty from a privileged standpoint with comments that suggest drug dealers in the Tenderloin have “unleashed a wave of death” throughout parts of the city that are more wealthy.

Meyer continues to make statements with no clear data to back it up.

It is claimed that “property crime exploded in 2020” with multiple numerical data points that are vague.

An often misunderstood concept is that COVID19 has played a significant role in the uptake of property crimes and that the DA has little to do with this.

There is more of a reason why property rates have been a concern in 2020, which has more to do with police brutality, unemployment, and overall economic downfalls.

Property crime will inevitably happen during economic downfalls, such as a global pandemic, as people have lost their jobs and are in desperate need to put food on the table for their families.

This frequently leads to robbery and other property crimes being committed.

Poverty has been a nationwide issue that Boudin is not to be held responsible for.

Boudin does not praise property crime, but rather acknowledges the reasons people really do it.

He is putting in the work to indirectly stop poverty by enforcing safe injection sites and focusing on rehabilitative practice.

People react to the pandemic in different ways due to the economic situation that they are facing, while commercial burglaries and residential burglaries have decreased because people are spending more time in their homes.

Car thefts are the primary increase in property crimes because many corporations have resorted to virtual settings leaving their cars to be left on the streets unattended.

By the end of his article, Meyer encourages the people of San Francisco to “consider purchasing a firearm to protect yourself and others”.

This statement is dangerous as it would increase not just property crime, but violent crime as well – making the city truly unsafe.

According to Safe Home, in 2019, there were 3,281 homicide deaths caused by firearms. Approximately 36,100 people in the United States die from firearm deaths, and San Francisco does not need to add to the death rate in order to protect itself from the DA’s policies.

This claim is uneducated and creates a false reality that for San Francisco to be safe, violence such as purchasing a gun will be the solution.

Purchasing a gun does not create a safe environment, it only adds fear.

Readers leave this article feeling confused and terrified about the current political climate in San Francisco rather than hoping for a brighter future with reform policies that directly impact people’s lives for the better.

It is important that fear is not instilled through careless claims, but rather that facts are made to keep the public informed.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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12 thoughts on “Commentary: Chesa Is Not a ‘Pro-Crime Prosecutor’ and Here’s Why”

        1. David Greenwald

          Perhaps in the future use a term other than “confused” because when I see “confused”, I read the article again to make sure it makes sense. That means additional work for me or whoever posted it.

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