By Vanguard Staff
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Elected San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju Tuesday issued a statement to “denounce” newly-appointed SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ recent filing of more than dozen petty drug cases, calling the filings a return to the “inhumane, cruel and costly war on drugs” which began in the 1970s.
Jenkins, picked to replace recalled SF DA Chesa Boudin this month, has filed charges where the only charge is possession of drug paraphernalia, such as having a pipe, said Raju, describing Jenkins’ drug filings “misguided.”
“I denounce these charging decisions by District Attorney Jenkins. San Francisco must not regress to the inhumane, cruel, and costly war on drugs. Let’s remember that the war on drugs, which began under Richard Nixon in the 1970s, did nothing to reduce drug use or sales,” said Raju in his statement.
He added the “drug war was designed as an attack on the poor and people of color that fueled criminalization and mass incarceration of vulnerable communities for decades. At that, it was enormously successful and harmful.
“We cannot arrest, prosecute, and cage our way out of a public health crisis. Every dollar spent on this misguided strategy is a dollar lost. We must instead invest in public health solutions that have proven to be effective, including housing, jobs, healthcare, and education—all of which have been drastically underfunded for decades,” said Raju.
Raju explained DA Jenkins’ plan will “exacerbate the existing humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing trial backlogs. Hundreds of people are already languishing in San Francisco’s jails awaiting their day in court past their constitutionally mandated speedy trial due dates. The filing of drug cases will add to this growing backlog.
“This is not who we are. In San Francisco, we are a compassionate community, and one that values evidence-based, effective responses to the problems our city faces. We must do better than a return to the destructive and devastating war on drugs,” said Raju.
However, the Interim DA Brooke Jenkins told SFGATE that she made no policy changes and is planning to withdraw the charges.
“I have made no policy changes in regard to charging for simple drug possession and paraphernalia,” Jenkins said in a statement to SFGATE. “My office will immediately withdraw these charges as they were done out of accordance with our office’s policy. I am focused on holding serious drug dealers, particularly those dealing fentanyl, accountable and not targeting and incarcerating those suffering from addiction. We will take the appropriate steps internally to ensure that our staff is following our policy.”