Last week I wrote about why the upcoming SF District Attorney race is important. This week I want to add a little to that conversation and then give a very brief summary of where I stand on the four candidates.
The new DA will replace George Gascón. While Gascón has been rightly criticized for declining to charge any police officer who shot and killed someone in the last eight years he has helped make important reforms to San Francisco’s criminal justice system.
Gascón loudly opposed drug prohibition. When California legalized cannabis he worked with Code for America to reduce and clear more than 9,000 old drug charges. He helped reduce California’s prison population by pushing the state to reclassify many non-violent felony crimes as misdemeanors. He helped block a new jail and pushed for more funding for mental health and drug rehab centers.
The result of Gascón’s “soft on crime” approach? Declining crime rates.
Here are my thoughts on the candidates:
- Former public defender
- Endorsed by Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Aaron Peskin, who are shit on housing, but good on criminal justice
- Serious about overincarceration
- Most likely to follow in Gascon’s footsteps
- Most likely to actually prosecute killer and rapist cops
- One of my friends overheard some of his staffers talking shit about me for being a libertarian [UPDATE: Chesa has clarified that he is fine with me being a libertarian. Generous, considering most days I’m not even sure how I feel about it.]
- Will probably let drunk drivers off the hook [UPDATE: Chesa has clarified that he is “definitely NOT going to let drunk drivers off the hook.” Here’s his policy platform on how he intends to prioritize resources.]
Verdict: He’s my favorite
- Fired more individual officers than any other police commission president
- Pushed for body cameras for all SFPD
- Endorsed by former boss Kamala Harris,
- Endorsed by disgraced former SFPD Chief Greg Suhr
- Endorsed by Dianne Feinstein
- Lied about rape kit backlog
Verdict: HARD PASS
- Favors rehabilitation and mental health reforms over prison
- Wants to convert the juvenile detention facility into a 150-bed mental health treatment center
- Said he wants to repair the relationship between the DA and SFPD
Verdict: Seems fine
- Wants to keep San Francisco’s juvenile hall open
- Favors a stronger response to hate crimes, particularly against the Chinese-American community, despite there being no evidence they’re happening
Verdict: HARD PASS
While we’re here, I want to get something off my chest. If I never hear the phrase “open-air drug dealing” or “open-air drug use” again in my LIFE it will be such a blessing.
Do I enjoy watching cracked-out looking people buy and use drugs as I’m trying to walk around? No. No I do not. Do I think that because these people are doing this outside they should be arrested, jailed, and saddled with a criminal record? What in the fucking hell? How is this even a question? I do drugs. I should be allowed to because I can afford to buy and use them inside? What kind of Dickensian nightmare fucked-up sociopathic shit is that?
The war on drugs is a complete and total failure that has ended and ruined countless lives, disproportionately those of low-income, disabled, trans, and black and brown people. AND YET, we still have people in fauxgressive San Francisco calling for MORE drug arrests and prosecutions. The SF Public Defender’s Office still defends cases where the evidence is a photo of “one rock or two rocks” of crack cocaine.
And it’s costing the city $12,519,713 per year. It’s about $20,901 per drug arrest, excluding expenses like administration, jail stays, and training.
Being alienated from shelter, employment, and community drives addiction. Criminalizing drug sales and use has been and continues to be an abject failure. If we actually care about helping addicts, we need to spend that $12m on supportive housing, treatment programs, and job placement programs.
I wish San Francisco would end the failed war on drugs and use the money to house more of our homeless.