San Francisco Green Party District Attorney Candidate Questionnaire 2019
Due Date: Thurs, Sep 12
Candidate Name: Chesa Boudin
Web site: chesaboudin.com
Name of Campaign Manager: Kaylah Williams
Signed voluntary spending limit:
Who did you endorse for Mayor in 2018 (all 3 choices, if applicable): Jane Kim/Mark Leno
Who did you endorse for Mayor in 2015 (all 3 choices, if applicable): No endorsement
Who did you endorse for Sheriff in 2015: Ross Mirkarimi
1) Would you have charged the police officers who shot:
a) Alex Nieto
b) Alice Brown
c) Amilcar Perez-Lopez
d) Giovany Contreras Sandoval
e) Herbert Benitez
f) Javier Lopez Garcia
g) Jessica Williams
h) Luis Góngora Pat
i) Mario Woods
j) Matthew Hoffman
k) Nicholas McWherter
l) O’Shaine Evans
The police shootings that have happened over the past several years in San Francisco are heartbreaking and unacceptable. I have not had access to all of the internal investigation materials and so cannot offer a definite opinion on any individual officer. I can say, based on the public information and videos, that it is hard to imagine why not even a single officer in any of these shootings was charged. The families of those that lost their lives deserve justice just like everyone else.
I would have vigorously investigated these cases and ensured that a separate agency, not associated with the local police department, handled the investigation. It is imperative that all potential conflicts of interest are removed and no one that handles the investigation or prosecution works with the agency being investigated. The investigation should also happen more quickly to ensure confidence and transparency in the outcome.
In addition, all allegations of police brutality, whether in the jails, the streets, in the form of beatings or through forced "gladiator style" fight clubs, must be taken seriously. As district attorney, I would ensure my District Attorney Investigators or a separate agency, not the sheriff's department or police department, handles the investigations immediately. Right now allegations continue to surface about sheriff deputies assaulting people in the San Bruno jail. These are serious, criminal allegations that need to be investigated and prosecuted with no conflicts of interest.
2) Who else have you endorsed in other contests (this year or next)?
I have endorsed Dean Preston for District 5 Supervisor and Manohar Raju for Public Defender.
3) What do you think of the Death Penalty?
I am, and have always been, staunchly opposed to the death penalty. I believe California should ban the death penalty. I commit to exercising my discretion to never seek it. I do not believe in state sanctioned killing, particularly when its fraught with errors and racist practices.
4) What do you think of SF closing our Juvenile Hall?
I stand with the Board of Supervisors and call for the closure of the juvenile detention center by December 2021, and I stood with them on the steps of City Hall when they announced their plan. Incarcerating children has very harmful effects: the experience is traumatic, and children become much more likely to drop out of school and to become involved in the adult criminal justice system. It's also immoral: Kids don't belong in cages. In order to achieve the safe and effective closure of the Youth Guidance Center (San Francisco's euphemistically named detention facility), as District Attorney I will either enact or advocate for the following systemic reforms:
All children arrested or given a notice to appear for non-serious, non-violent offenses should be processed through the Huckleberry Community Assessment and Referral Center (CARC) or other similar diversion program.
I will instruct my Assistant District Attorneys to divert from prosecution and place into community services all children processed for misdemeanors and low-level felonies.
The CARC and all diversion programs should have access to the array of community-based services funded by Department of Children, Youth and Families, the Department of Public Health, or other City and County funded programs.
Children charged with serious and violent offenses, which make up a very small percentage of all arrests, will be processed through the Juvenile Probation Department. According to the California Department of Justice, in 2018 in San Francisco, there were 39 juvenile arrests for violent offenses and none for sex offenses.
I will advocate for the City to open two 8-bed temporary detention homes for youth charged with a serious or violent offense who are determined to be high risk.
Research has proven that long probation terms are ineffective and wasteful. For children placed on probation by the court, the San Francisco DA will request that the length of probation terms be capped at 10 months.
The Juvenile Probation Department should identify the neighborhoods where large numbers of children on probation live, and in partnership with those communities, establish community service offices that are welcoming and supportive environments that may include co-location with other government agencies and community-based organizations. I will require my Assistant District Attorneys to regularly work out of these offices in addition to our central office so they can learn about the communities the children come from first hand.
5) What do you think of current police staffing levels?
We delegate way too much of what should be social service work to our police department. To the extent we can reallocate the resources being used by the police to do, for example, homeless outreach, to dedicated social workers, we'd get better, and safer, outcomes. I am in favor of at least freezing the current SFPD budget, and I'd be very open to looking at ways to re-capture some of our current expenditures for non-law enforcement first line services.
The city has been willing to invest so much money in punishing people for crimes of opportunity, crimes of poverty, the war on drugs. And yet there's so little willingness to step up before crimes are committed and say, how can we help get you off the street and on your feet: How can we help protect your housing? How can we help protect your job? How can we help treat your mental illness with something other than solitary confinement in jail?
6) What do you think of closing 850 Bryant?
Not only is the jail at 850 Bryant street seismically unfit, the conditions in the jail are abhorrent and unacceptable. With sewage flooding, roof leaks, and incarceration practices that target the poor and people of color, we shouldn't need pragmatic considerations to justify its closure; moral ones alone are sufficient.
As DA, here is how I will quickly and safely reduce the jail population:
I will seek treatment rather than jail to promote rehabilitation and reduce recidivism whenever possible;
I will not seek cash bail, and will work to eliminate it legislatively and through the courts, as I already have for years;
I will exhaust all non-monetary alternatives to pretrial incarceration whenever possible;
I will decriminalize sex work;
I will not seek jail for drug-related offenses;
I will expand access to pretrial diversion programs and alternative courts such as drug court, young adult court, behavioral health court and veterans' court.
I will work with the courts and other stakeholders to create restorative and transformative justice practices, which almost always leave both crime victims and the accused better off;
I will never seek incarceration for technical violations of probation or parole and stop dedicating resources to opposing release on parole as a matter of course;
I will refuse to call as a witness any officer with a documented history of racial profiling, dishonesty, or excessive force;
I will quickly and effectively prosecute police misconduct -- less police misconduct means less unwarranted arrests and prosecutions.
Aside from the practices I set forth in the question above to reduce the jail population to allow for county jail #4's closure, I will also publicly advocate and put pressure on the sheriff's department to close this facility down.
I will also oppose efforts to construct any new jails or reopen previously closed jails. Money slated for any new jail should instead be diverted to community based treatment and to expanding system capacity for housing in mental health and drug addiction programming. That is how we will meaningfully reduce crime, reduce recidivism, reduce our jail populations even further, and actually address the harm and suffering that have befallen so many of the people who are accused of crime in San Francisco as well as the people who are victimized by it.
7) What do you think of the concept of restorative justice? What specific plans do you have to implement your ideas?
I am fully committed to implementing restorative justice principles as District Attorney. A survivor-centered response to crime is essential to a safe and just society. We incarcerate record numbers of people and destroy entire communities while failing to help, and actively harming, the people we claim to care most about. The current system doesn't work for anyone--victims, people who commit crimes, or their communities.
My Restorative Justice Program, available on my website, will provide alternatives to incarceration to hundreds or thousands of people annually. The full policy is too long to reproduce here, but here is an overview:
Every victim of crime will have an opportunity to choose our Restorative Justice Program and engage in a mediated victim-offender dialogue or a circle that involves the victim, the person who committed crime, their families, and members of the community--all people impacted by the actions of the responsible party. Processes address the needs of the victim, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach focused solely on punishment and ignoring healing and accountability. A similar program in New York is used by 90% of victims who are offered it.
Using a five-step accountability framework, parties work through the harm caused so the responsible party comes to fully understand the ramifications of his or her actions on the person he or she harmed and others. They develop a remedial plan that might include counseling, job training, education, and other remedies that serve the specific needs of the victim and the responsible party. Upon completion of the plan, charges may be dismissed or reduced.
For more on my personal experience with restorative justice and my vision for enacting it in SF: https://theappeal.org/san-francisco-restorative-justice/
8) What standards do you support for police use of force? Are there any "less-lethal" weapons that you support arming the police with?
When it comes to "less-lethal" weapons, I have been consistent in my opposition to equipping the SFPD with tasers. We know police don't use so-called "less lethal" weapons, like Tasers, to replace guns, they use them to replace other alternative options, like de-escalation. "Less-lethal" is a clinical-sounding term that elides the fact that these weapons can, and frequently do, result in death. Law enforcement misuse of force is not a problem that will be solved by giving police another deadly weapon, it has to be solved through structural reforms including robust accountability measures. I support these measures, not new weapons.
9) DA Gascon had a policy of only charging cases that he thought he'd easily win. What standard will you apply?
My charging policies will have nothing to do with odds of "winning." I will focus on what is best for the people of San Francisco and in accordance with the law. I will involve community members in decisions that affect their communities. I'll regularly meet with people and organizations from communities that are most impacted by decisions made by my office. I want to learn from them what they need, and I want to be held accountable. And I'll do more than just meet with them, I'll work to hire staff from impacted communities, including formerly incarcerated people. Right now, the people most affected by decisions made by criminal justice system actors are excluded from those decisions. That will change when I am District Attorney.
I will prioritize focusing our resources on serious crimes rather than quality of life or victimless crimes that are currently taking up so many of our resources: currently of jury trials in San Francisco are misdemeanors. That is an unacceptable waste of resources and it isn't necessary to hold people accountable. I will focus especially on violent crime.
Your positions (at the time) on selected current and past Propositions
(skip any for which you didn't live or vote in SF, or didn't take
a position at the time):
+ - :
[ ] [ x] [ ] Nov 2019 Prop C (Vaping regulations)
[x ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2019 Prop D (Uber/Lyft tax)
[ x ] [ ] [ ] June 2018 Prop F (Eviction Defense)
[ ] [ x ] [ ] June 2018 Prop H (Tasers for SFPD)
[ x ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop D (Vacancy appointments)
[ x] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop F (16-17 y.o. voting, local elections)
[ x] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop N (Non-citizen voting, school board)
[ ] [x ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop Q (Prohibiting tents on public sidewalks)
[ ] [ x ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop R (Neighborhood crime units)
[x ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2016 Prop 62 (Ending Death Penalty)
[ ] [x ] [ ] June 2016 Prop B (Rec and Park legislation)
[x ] [ ] [ ] 2015 Prop F (Short Term Rental Regulation)
[ x ] [ ] [ ] 2015 Prop I (Mission Luxury Housing Moratorium)
[ ] [ ] [ ] Nov 2014 Prop H (Natural Grass in Parks)
[ ] [ ] [ ] June 2014 Prop B (Waterfront Height Limits)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2011 Prop C (Mayor's Pension measure)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2011 Prop D (Adachi's Pension measure)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2010 Prop L (Ban on Sitting on Sidewalks)
[ ] [ ] [ ] 2010 Prop M (Foot Patrols)
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