CBS News isn't doing any favors for San Francisco's national image with the piece that just went live on "60 Minutes+" on the Paramount+ app. It's ostensibly a profile of District Attorney Chesa Boudin, whose unique life story — as most of us here already know — includes parents who were incarcerated for decades for their involvement in a Weather Underground robbery. But they took their camera crews to the Tenderloin to film open-air drug use and homelessness, and got quote from Tony Montoya of the police officers' union about what a disaster they think Boudin has been so far.
The episode, titled "Crime and Punishment," went live on Sunday, and a few clips have been posted to Twitter — it hasn't aired on the actual 60 Minutes TV program and to watch you'd need to subscribe to Paramount+, which has subsumed CBS All Access and offers content libraries from MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, and the Smithsonian Channel as well. 60 Minutes+ has bonus segments unique to itself, which aren't part of the regular 60 Minutes broadcast.
BrokeAss Stuart picked up the episode release and notes that the segment debunks the idea that SF has had it a lot worse, crime-wise, since the pandemic began. SF has seen more crime overall — a 49% uptick — than other major cities, but New York isn't far behind at 44%, and Irvine has seen a 44% jump in the last year as well.
Few prosecutors have been as directly touched by incarceration as San Francisco’s new DA, Chesa Boudin. When he was a toddler, his far-left activist parents were imprisoned for their part in a fatal heist. His mother served 22 years. His father's still in. https://t.co/OzEMZRYTMV pic.twitter.com/7ZsVDGDuve— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 29, 2021
“We need to do more than simply arrest street level dealers,” says DA Boudin. “If all you're doing is taking a couple grams off the street, great. But it has never made a difference.”— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 29, 2021
San Francisco’s police chief: “I think it does make a difference.”https://t.co/OzEMZRYTMV pic.twitter.com/fQT9XcQKV4
60 Minutes+ reporter Wesley Lowery tells Boudin, "We spent a fair amount of time in the Tenderloin, and it was unquestionable, there was a lot of open-air drug sales and drug usage. And when you hang out with the police, they would suggest that your policies have contributed to this."
Boudin denies that there has been any change in policy when it comes to prosecuting drug possession and drug sales charges, but he says, "If all you're doing is taking a couple grams off the street, great. But it has never made a difference. And it won't."
And they replay the part of the speech that Boudin gave last fall where he said, "I need the police department to bring me kilos, not crumbs."
Lowery speaks also to San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, who says, "I think it does make a difference," noting that police work took 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl off of San Francisco's streets in 2020. "I'm looking at every individual life counts," Scott says. "If we get just a little sack of fentanyl off the streets, that's just as fantastic. Because those street-level dealers are who are causing, in my opinion, the damage that's happening on the streets."
And Scott says he "can't discount" the notion that there's a rift between the rank-and-file officers and the DA's office right now.
Boudin defends his office's choice to release 40% of inmates during the pandemic, and says that his office "looked closely" and asked of each inmate, "Do they really need to be incarcerated."
Boudin's critics would, of course, want to ask about several high-profile cases involving repeat offenders in recent months who were arrested for other crimes and released last year — two of which resulted in the deaths of San Franciscans, and one of which resulted in a kidnapping.
The wife of one of those victims, Hannah Ege, also gets interviewed in the piece. Her husband Sheria Musyoka was killed while jogging near Lake Merced last month, and the driver who allegedly caused the incident, Jerry Lyons, was found to be a repeat offender who had been arrested for DUI and driving a stolen car in December. He was again allegedly driving under the influence and in a stolen vehicle during the February collision that killed Musyoka, and witnesses say he was seen smoking a substance out of some foil immediately after the crash.
Ege says of Boudin, "He should have thought of the community. He should have thought, 'Am I protecting people with criminal records?', which, yes, there's room for improvement... or 'Am I protecting the citizens?' There was someone out who shouldn't have been out. And my husband's dead now because of that."
Boudin calls this example of Lyons (and the two other cases) "the aberration," and says the norm is that formerly incarcerated people who are properly supervised tend to successfully reintegrate into society.
Last month, Sheria Musyoka was jogging in his San Francisco neighborhood when he was struck and killed by a car. Musyoka’s wife says she was shocked to learn that the driver had been arrested and released in the past for similar crimes. https://t.co/OzEMZRYTMV pic.twitter.com/RbLYERNGTH— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 29, 2021