Crime and conviction rates under District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’s first eight months are being seen as a glass half-full for both her supporters and critics, as more people are being arrested and convicted, though simultaneously, more people are being murdered and dying of drug overdoses.
Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a data dive on prosecutions during SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’s first eight months in office. In many ways, it’s statistical information that the SF Business Times ran last week, though the Chronicle version shows more visual graphs and charts.
And the response to both articles is reminiscent of the old “Is crime up or down in San Francisco?” debate that defined previous DA Chesa Boudin’s term. Since Jenkins was so active in the recall campaign (and was paid $153,000 by it) the same debate is likely to define her time as DA as well.
When today’s Chronicle article was published, Jenkins’s personal Twitter account was quick to retweet flattering snippets of it (the above image is a screenshot, but shows you Jenkins was retweeting the piece). The above tweet pulls words from the Chronicle that the increase in charges and convictions under Jenkins “are most evident when it comes to drug crimes, for which arrest, charging and conviction rates have climbed sharply.”
But that quote leaves out the rest of the paragraph: "These changes are intended to decrease overdose deaths and reduce other harmful consequences of rampant drug use, but those reversals haven’t happened yet. Overdose deaths have climbed recently,” as the Chronicle notes.
Under Brooke Jenkins:— John Hamasaki (@HamasakiLaw) March 29, 2023
- Overdose deaths have hit a new record
- Drug sales in SF have doubled
- Jenkins lost the 2 drug cases that went to trial
- Crime rates have increased
Tell us again how fake "tough-on-crime" keeps San Francisco safe https://t.co/WP9229fn5p
Jenkins’s opponent from last November’s election John Hamasaki also retweets the exact same article Jenkins tweeted, seeing it as an indictment of her tenure. “Overdose deaths have hit a new record,” he observes (correctly), “Jenkins lost the 2 drug cases that went to trial,” (seems a small sample size), and “Crime rates have increased” (depends on the crime, and we’ll get to that in a second). But Hamasaki’s critique that “Tell us again how fake ‘tough-on-crime’ keeps San Francisco safe” may be an arguable case.
Because the SF Business Times crunched these numbers last week, to find property crime is down nunder Jenkins. “Since the beginning of the year through March 19 there have been about 8,700 reported incidents of property crime (including burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, and larceny), about a 13.3% decrease from the just-over 10,000 reports during the same period last year,” the Business Times points out.
But on the other hand, the same report notes that “in terms of violent crimes — homicide, rape, robbery, assault, and human trafficking — SFPD data shows there are 6.1% more reported incidents so far this year compared with the same period through March 19 in 2022.”
It’s true that not all crimes get reported. But homicides, the big one there, are pretty difficult to sweep under the rug. It is fair to say that there have been more murders under Jenkins, though any causality there would be highly debatable.
Here’s what we know: Police are definitely arresting more people under Jenkins, after a sort of "wildcat strike" under Boudin where they sometimes refused to do their jobs. Jenkins is definitely seeking (and getting) more criminal convictions, as opposed to the diversions Boudin often sought with jail alternatives like rehab and counseling.
You could draw a parallel to the old 1980s Drug War, where we threw more resources at law enforcement only to see the problem get worse. Though at eight months into Jenkins’s tenure, it may be too early to draw that comparison. That said, the Boudin recall effort started barely 12 months into his time on the job. And the general public will not judge Jenkins on how many convictions she’s won, they’ll judge her on how much crime is affecting them personally.
Image: @BrookeJenkinsSF via Twitter