By Paige Laver
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – This past week, NBC Bay Area reporter Bigad Shaban interviewed two prosecutors who want District Attorney Chesa Boudin recalled.
And organizers of the recall organization announced that they have gathered 83,00 signatures, which are waiting to be verified. If they are verified, it should be enough to qualify for a recall this coming June.
Several recall efforts have been pursued against Boudin earlier this year. While the first recall effort failed in August, the second effort, fueled by people signing over alleged – but untrue – high crime rates in the City and outrage over Boudin using alternatives to prosecuting those who have committed crimes.
Two former prosecutors who resigned from Boudin’s office, Brooke Jenkins and Don Du Bain, who was also joined by Assistant District Attorney DeMarris Evans, one of Boudin’s colleagues, discussed the reasons why they want a recall.
Jenkins and Du Bain told KNTV that they have stepped down from their posts in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office due to Boudin’s lack of commitment to prosecuting crimes.
Jenkins discussed why she disagreed with the way Boudin approaches crime.
“Chesa has a radical approach that involves not charging crime in the first place and simply releasing individuals with no rehabilitation and putting them in positions where they are simply more likely to reoffend,” she said in an interview.
Jenkins discusses the impacts of Boudin’s approach to crime “Being an African American and Latino woman, I would wholeheartedly agree that the criminal justice system needs a lot of work, but when you are a District Attorney, your job is to have balance.”
Bigad Shaban asked Du Bain if he could understand the frustration from just people living in San Francisco hearing both sides of criminal justice reform, why isn’t there better communication within the own department that you worked in for so long, and why can’t you find a common ground?
Du Bain responded saying “I don’t think Brooke or I disagree with the value of restorative justice programs that aim to keep people, especially our youth out of the criminal justice system and to rehabilitate those who are already involved in the criminal justice system. I don’t think that Ms. Jenkins nor I have any qualms about that disagreement, in fact we are very proud to work for an office that has a history of progressive District Attorney’s like Kamala Harris.”
Du Bain discussed what he finds to be problematic with Chesa Boudin’s approaches, noting:
“What we are talking about is the offenders who have a long history of convictions, within two months of Chesa taking office, he cut a deal with Troy McAllister, who is a lifelong offender, to release him from custody immediately that he had already served notwithstanding his eight prior felony convictions…these are the type of offenders that Brooke and I believe are not being adequately prosecuted to the full extent of the law by Mr. Boudin.”
Du Bain blames Chesa for the deaths of Hanako Abe and Elizabeth Platt who were struck on New Year’s Eve by McAllister. “These women are not alive today because of the very abrupt and reckless decision that Chesa made to release Troy McAllister,” he claimed.
Boudin has defended his office’s choices, saying that “charging McAllister with a new nonviolent crime would not have necessarily put the serial offender behind bars.”
He focused his attention on law enforcement agencies saying they could have acted differently to avoid a terrible and devastating tragedy but vowed to make “concrete changes” in his office.
Du Bain continued by stating,“ I have lost my confidence in Chesa Boudin to serve as our elected District Attorney because I’ve concluded that he selectively enforces the laws of the State of California according to his own political priorities.”
“He disregards the law that he doesn’t like, and he disregards the court decisions that he doesn’t like to impose his own version of what he believes is just and that’s not the job of the District Attorney,” Du Bain also added.
“The office was headed in such a wrong direction that the best thing I could do was to join the effort to recall Chesa Boudin. I take no pleasure in saying this. I didn’t want to be in this position. I consider Chesa a friend,” he said.
The District Attorney Office refutes claims of former prosecutors, stating, “We are disappointed that former staff members have chosen to politicize their departures and spread misinformation about Chesa Boudin, specific cases, and the hard work of our dedicated prosecutors and staff.”
The DA’s office continued in a statement, “All criminal cases are complex and certainly there may be disagreements on process, but twisting those disagreements for obvious political purposes does nothing to make our city safer or improve the pursuit of justice.”
Bigad Shaban asked ADA Demarris Evans if Boudin is doing what his voters wanted him to do, and Evans responded “Absolutely, Chesa is running on a platform on systemic reform, and there’s no way you can claim that you’re in favor of systemic reform, someone who is looking at root causes of crime, not sensualizing an individual case and using fear mongering, and talking about the details of one or two individual cases, and then using them to scare people into blaming Chesa Boudin for these things.”
He continued, “Because if the people were in custody, this wouldn’t have happened, you can say that about any case and any jurisdiction, but in this particular jurisdiction you have someone who is committed to systemic reform to using alternatives to incarceration to get to the root causes of crime.
“So you can’t pick and choose one or two individuals sensualized cases and say that Chesa is not accomplishing what he ran on, which was to bring reform to a broken criminal justice system.”
Bigad Shaban asked the same question to Jenkins, is Chesa is doing what his voters wanted him to do and Jenkins responded with a different answer.
“He is not doing what voters wanted him to do. What they wanted him to do was to find alternatives to incarceration while balancing the need to keep the city safe. That is his job and that is what he is failing at…. Don and I are not arguing for mass incarceration, what we are arguing for is balance, and trying to explain to voters that Chesa lacks the balance that is necessary to take into account for public safety and the interests of what serves justice for a defendant.”
Jenkins and Du Bain are among about 50 lawyers from Boudin’s office who quit or were fired since he became District Attorney in January 2020, which represents roughly one third of the department’s attorney’s.
Addressing the two recall efforts during his tenure, Boudin participated in a national organizing call for the campaign group called “Our Revolution,” which was advertised as “Celebrating 5 years of electing progressive champions from coast to coast.”
Mentioning how both of his parents were incarcerated growing up, Boudin argued that the U.S. approach to mass incarceration is not rehabilitating people.
“As San Francisco’s District Attorney, I’ve worked tirelessly since day one to follow through on the campaign promises that I made to all of you and to the people of San Francisco that got me elected,” Boudin stated.
He added, “it’s following up on those kinds of promises we made, holding corporations accountable, holding police accountable, reducing our reliance on incarceration and instead prioritizing diversion, mental health treatment and keeping families together that I’ve been able to follow through on my commitments to those that elected me.”