By Paige Laver
SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin struck back at his critics at a rally this past Monday, charging that when he entered office as the DA of San Francisco he came into a broken criminal justice system, and that he’s pushing hard for change, which includes holding criminals accountable.
Boudin said that his work is making the status quo uncomfortable, which is an integral part of why the district attorney is facing recall this summer.
During a rally in San Francisco’s Excelsior District, supporters of Boudin pushed back against the recall effort and the narrative that the district attorney is weak on crime.
Proponents of Boudin consider him a reformer and said the criminal justice system as it stands now is broken and biased against marginalized groups.
“We look forward to working more with District Attorney Boudin to re-imagine the criminal legal system into one that gets to the root causes of crime while also seeing people as deserving of dignity,” said Brandie Bowen from Coleman Action Fund.
Boudin wrote on Twitter, “Proud of our work to end the death penalty in San Francisco—we resentenced the last person out of San Francisco who was on the row.”
In a report by San Francisco Chronicle and findings from the Committee on Revision of the Penal Code, California’s death penalty costs taxpayers $150 million a year. The average appeal of a death sentence, when considered by state and federal courts, takes more than 30 years to resolve.
Since enacting its current death penalty laws in 1977 and 1978, California has executed 13 prisoners—none since 2006—while 156 condemned inmates have died of other causes. The latest report called for repeal of the death penalty, an option California voters considered and narrowly rejected in 2012 and 2016.
“Capital punishment in California is imposed so arbitrarily and in such a discriminatory fashion that it cannot be called rational, fair, or constitutional,” the committee said.
“California’s system for capital punishment is beyond repair,” the Committee on Revision of the Penal Code wrote.
Boudin said that he has been dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system, like taking legal action against corporations or law enforcement officers who break the law. These efforts have brought out detractors who are behind the recall effort.
“That is the kind of approach to accountability and to safety and inclusion of all our communities that I am committed to during the remainder of my term,” said Boudin, “It is precisely because of those policies that the San Francisco Republican Party has endorsed the recall against me.”
Boudin said that he is relying on law enforcement to bring him strong cases, and that he will ensure consequences for those who are caught committing crimes in the city.
“Across the country about 98 percent of criminal cases plead out. It’s the exceptional case that goes to trial…that’s true in San Francisco, it always has been, it always will be,” said Boudin. “It does not mean there’s no consequences. Let’s be very clear, my conviction rates for murders has gone up.”
Boudin’s supporters claim that the recall is a Republican-backed attempt to subvert the democratic process.
In a statement to KTVU, the police union said in a part, “ They can keep repeating that tired narrative but 83,000 citizens of San Francisco who signed the recall effort aren’t Republicans. They are from all walks of life who are dissatisfied with the state of the city and the performance of the district attorney.”
Recall organizers said the district attorney has proven ineffective and point to high profile crimes that have plagued the city since Boudin took office.
“With each incident over the last two years , we became more resolute in the desire to see him out of office,” said Richie Greenberg from the recall campaign. “ His denial of reality in regard to the need to hold criminals accountable for their actions, is a slap in the face to each and every victim.”