By Linh Nguyen
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Data shows that crime has not been rising since San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin took office, though many mainstream media outlets fail to report that, and in fact reports the contrary, according to a 48 Hills article.
This article criticizes a story published in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Chesa Boudin and San Francisco’s bitter debate over crime.”
“Cassidy [the author of the Chronicle article] did a good job of collecting information. It’s not her fault the editors framed the story all wrong and wrote a bad headline,” Redmond of 48 Hills wrote. “The story fails a fundamental rule of journalism: In an effort to be balanced and tell ‘all sides of the story,’ it misses the facts that ought to be right at the top.”
Redmond writes that every sensational case that the Chronicle and TV stations use to portray Boudin as “soft on crime” is not Boudin’s fault. However, this framing supports recall supporters’ argument of feeling unsafe, though those are not the facts.
The Chronicle article also wrote that “while city voters have elected mostly progressive district attorneys for decades….” Redmond refuted that claim, stating that most of the past district attorneys of San Francisco have not been progressive, including Arlo Smith, Terence Hallinan, Kamala Harris and George Gascon.
The Chronicle article found that Boudin’s office filed charges in about 46 percent of the cases brought by the city police and other agencies during his first year in office. Meanwhile, in Alameda County under Nancy O’Malley, who is said to be more moderate, the office filed 54 percent of all cases in 2020.
48 Hills said that this margin of charging between Boudin and O’Malley is negligible.
“During a global pandemic, when there were almost no courtrooms open for trials and everyone with any sense was trying hard to bring down jail populations, SF and Alameda County charged about the same percentage of cases. Why is O’Malley not facing a recall?” Redmond wrote.
Where the Chronicle reports on various statistics as a part of the story, 48 Hills argues that these statistics are significant enough to be their own story.
For example, Boudin’s filing rate rose from 50 percent to 75 percent in sexual assaults from 2020 to 2021. This 25 percent difference “in a city where that’s been a problem for years” is significant and should be the lead of the story.
48 Hills continues that talk about how the Chronicle does not write about clearance rates, which means when an arrest has been made in a case and the suspect has been charged and turned over to the court for prosecution.
Data shows that clearance rates have gone up, which means that more arrests have been made and more cases are being charged.
However, 48 Hills argues that “they are still abysmally low…not because Boudin isn’t filing charges (the data shows otherwise) but because the cops aren’t doing their job of fairly and fully investigating cases and presenting enough evidence for the DA’s Office to act,” Redmond writes. This is because Boudin cannot file charges if there is not enough evidence to warrant it.
However, Boudin recently reached an agreement with the city’s police department in investigating police shootings. It puts the District Attorney’s office in charge of those investigations and gives prosecutors leads on interviews and access to incident scenes.
The agreement is meant to ensure that the public can trust the criminal investigations that help determine whether to charge an involved officers, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
“Boudin isn’t any more ‘soft on crime’ than any of the other local district attorneys. He’s done a significantly better job filing charges in sexual assault cases. The cops have been doing a terrible job closing cases. And none of the sensational news media reports that have fueled the recall furor are true,” Redmond maintains.