SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin launched a bevy of new policy directives — among them the end of charging defendants for contraband procured during "pretextual" traffic stops — yesterday, aimed at reducing racial imbalances in our criminal justice system and mass incarceration.
As reported by KTVU, Boudin set a lofty number of judicial instructions in motion Friday, citing his decisions to stop prosecuting for contraband gathered at traffic stops and ceasing sentence enhancements are "important to communities of color who are disproportionately affected by crime."
Today we announced two major policy changes in our office.— Chesa Boudin 博徹思 (@chesaboudin) February 28, 2020
The first is to stop charging status sentencing enhancements that contribute to mass incarceration, worsen racial disparities in our system, and make us less safe. https://t.co/uEIVEQFcWi
"Today we take action, [and] we send a message that is loud and clear to the police department and to communities of color,” he said at a news conference on Friday, as published by the media outlet. “We will no longer participate in, condone, tolerate or amplify racist police tactics.”
People found with illegal goods that were obtained through stop-and-frisk style "pretextual" searches will no longer be charged, and those who'd otherwise be subjected to sentence enhancements — also called “aggravating factors” which allow judges to increase a defendant's sentence beyond the normal range, based on conditions like gang-relation and past histories in hostile crimes — won't be, anymore.
“Pretextual stops and sentencing enhancements based on who you know rather than what you did are relics of the tough-on-crime era that failed to make us safer,” said the SF DA during the same news conference, according to KRON4. “Instead, they led to mass incarceration, targeted innocent black and brown drivers, and increased recidivism, they stand in the way of fairness and justice.”
Boudin's office is also eliminating the use of California's three-strike law, a sentencing system that gives defendants a prison sentence of 25 years to life should they be convicted of three severe or serious felonies. In fact, 45 percent of those serving a life sentence based on the three strike charges are African-American, according to a Stanford Law School (SLS) study.
Boudin, too, is also calling for the San Francisco Police Department to continue "getting weapons off [our] streets and enforcing traffic laws," though executing so without racial or other cultural prejudices in mind.
“We urge the police to continue getting weapons off the street and enforcing traffic laws, but to do so in a way that is not racially motivated, and that does not continue to undermine the relationship between the communities where most crimes are committed and the police and law enforcement agencies that are sworn to serve and protect there,” Boudin adds, per the SF Examiner.
These sweeping policy changes come just days after Mayor Breed and District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney came out in support of safe-injection sites in San Francisco.
Much like Boudin's other shakes ups — not prosecuting public camping and prostitution; Boudin withdrawing charges against a man who allegedly attacked an SF police officer in December — was again met with disdain from San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya: "[Chesa Boudin] is emboldening criminals and we are all going to pay a steep price for his absurd policies."
Image: Twitter via @chesaboudin