New San Francisco DA Promises Lighter Sentences For Gang Members
San Francisco, CA – San Francisco’s newly-elected district attorney has announced that he plans to do away with adding gang enhancements to charges against defendants.
San Francisco District Attorney-Elect Chesa Boudin, who will take office on Jan. 8, said that gang enhancements are “infused with racism,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“I want to focus on holding people accountable for what they’ve done — not who they are,” Boudin said. “People are seeing their families impacted by overzealous uses of these gang allegations.”
Gang enhancements add years to felony sentences if prosecutors can show the crime committed benefitted a street gang, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The matter may be somewhat personal for the incoming district attorney, who is the son of two cop killers, one of whom is still in prison.
Boudin is the son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, two members of The Weather Underground who were convicted of murdering two police officers and a Brinks security guard during an armed robbery in 1981, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Boudin, 39, was endorsed by Presidential hopeful U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), singer John Legend, and the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, as well as several first-term radical liberal prosecutors including Chicago’s beleaguered Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx and Philadelphia’s cop-hating district attorney, Larry Krasner.
Activist Shaun King’s Real Justice PAC and a other money from outside the state of California filled the public defender’s campaign coffers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Boudin was 14 months old when both of his parents left him with a sitter while they committed an armored car robbery in upstate New York, NBC News reported.
After his parents went to prison, he was raised by The Weather Underground’s leaders, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, in a life of privilege that led him to Yale University.
After college, Boudin won a Rhodes scholarship and then worked as a translator for the late Communist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to NBC News.
"Growing up, I had to go through a metal detector and steel gates just to give my parents a hug," Boudin said in one of his campaign videos.
His mother, Kathy Boudin, was released from prison in 2003 after serving 22 years for the murders, but his father, David Gilbert, remains behind bars serving life in prison, NBC News reported.
The newly-elected district attorney ran his campaign on criminal justice reform, claiming that he was also a “victim” of his parents’ armed robbery in 1981 that left three people dead, two of them police officers.
Boudin has claimed he was motivated to run for office because he has experienced the results of the “destructive effects of mass incarceration,” NBC News reported.
And he said he thought gang enhancements only served widen the divide between minority communities and police, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“There are violent crimes that are going unsolved, and we need cooperation from these communities where these crimes are being committed,” Boudin explained.
Supporters of gang enhancements said that what Boudin has proposed would cripple law enforcement efforts to clean up the streets.
“Getting rid of the gang enhancement assumes that there’s no gang problem,” Eric Siddall, a Los Angeles County gang prosecutor and vice president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The law was created for a very specific purpose with a very specific target and for very specific violence,” Siddall added.
Proponents of gang enhancements also argued that although there are more minorities charged with gang enhancements than white defendants, the number of minority victims is equally disproportionately high, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“It just happens to be that most gangs are Hispanic or black,” Siddall said.
He said most of the victims of gang crimes “are minorities from socially vulnerable communities,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“District attorneys are charged with defending people who were vulnerable on the street and giving them justice in the courtroom,” Siddall said. “Unilaterally doing away with the gang enhancement is not fair to those people who have to deal with gangs on a daily basis.”