Recently sworn in as San Francisco’s new District Attorney, Chesa Boudin has bold plans to reform the city’s criminal justice system.
“Our criminal justice system is failing all of us. It is not keeping us safe,” said Boudin in a recent SF Examiner article. “It is contributing to a vicious cycle of crime and punishment.”
As the head of San Francisco’s investigative division, Boudin said he will form a Conviction Integrity Unit of special advisers to address wrongful conviction allegations and excessive sentencing.
Boudin, a Rhodes Scholar and Yale graduate, ran for district attorney on a platform of reducing mass incarceration.
“There have been debates about how sympathetic Boudin will be to victims of crime, with some questioning if his policies will be empathetic to them, and others arguing that he will stand up for crime victims,” the SF Examiner reported.
We have a shared understanding that “there is a balance between justice and fairness,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “I appreciate that Chesa Boudin understands that balance. We can hold people accountable, and we can make sure there is fairness in our criminal justice system. I am looking forward over the next four years of working with him to do just that.”
Opposed by the San Francisco police union, Boudin who has been labeled a “radical” for his extremely progressive plans.
“Radical simply means, grasping things at the root,” Boudin said, quoting one of his supporters, activist Angela Davis. “For far too long, criminal justice policy has been shaking the trees, when the plant itself has rooted out. The solution lies beneath the surface.”
Boudin views the criminal justice system as failing and points to current tough-on-crime sentencing enhancements, immigration prosecutions, and “illegal searches” after minor traffic violations as problematic.
During his inaugural speech, Boudin told a crowd of public defenders, former mayors, and police brass, “These failures (of our criminal justice system) have led us, as a community, as a nation, to accept the unacceptable. Join me. Join this movement. Join us in rejecting the notion that to be free, we must cage others.”
Boudin is the son of radicals who were convicted for a robbery that led to the deaths of two police officers and a security guard. In his speech, he described visiting his parents in prison as a child. Although his mother was there to hear his speech, his father is still incarcerated.
Speaking of his father, Boudin said, “He taught me that we are all more than our worst mistakes.” And in a spoken aside to his father, said, “Thank you for teaching me about forgiveness and redemption.”