Brooke Jenkins, the San Francisco district attorney, withdraws plea deals offered by her predecessor in more than 30 fentanyl trafficking cases in one of the first major changes in the office’s approach under the new DA
The move is part of a series of policy changes aimed at drug traffickers, particularly in fentanyl cases, that could lead to higher incarceration rates and harsher sentences.
“We need to make changes now to save lives,” Jenkins said at a press conference Wednesday where she announced the changes.
Under the new policies, those arrested with more than 5 grams of drugs will no longer be referred to San Francisco Community Courts; traffickers selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school could face stiffer penalties; and “extreme” cases of fentanyl trafficking could result in pre-trial detention.
For those whose plea agreements are revoked, the district attorney’s office will seek felony charges that could include jail time as part of a new offer, the office said.
“We need to send a strong message that if people choose to sell drugs in our city, they will be held accountable,” Jenkins said.
The new policies are reversed from those of Chesa Boudin, the former district attorney, who lost a voter recall effort in June amid a sharp pushback from conservative activists and residents who criticized his administration as being too progressive and said it was making San Francisco unsafe. Jenkins, a former homicide prosecutor in Boudin’s office who resigned last October and became a vocal critic of her former boss, campaigned for Boudin’s removal.
One of the most “egregious” plea deals revoked involves a defendant implicated in six open cases for allegedly selling fentanyl in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood at the center of the city’s drug crisis, according to Jenkins’ office. . The defendant was in community court and initially offered to be allowed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor to settle the six cases.
Local officials and residents weighed in online, with some criticizing the policy as a throwback to the failed drug war of the 1990s that disproportionately affected people of color and poor communities.
“If District Attorney Jenkins is serious about solving the problems facing our city, she shouldn’t rely on outdated, politically expedient soundbites over tougher enforcement,” said San Francisco public defender Mano Raju. , in a press release. “Fifty years of evidence from the War on Drugs has shown that these punitive practices have not prevented recidivism or improved community health and safety.”
Jenkins, who was appointed to the interim post by Mayor London Breed after Boudin was ousted from office, will face voters in November when they decide whether she or another candidate will finish Boudin’s term.
Los Angeles Times