Convictions Are Down, and More Felonies Are “Charged Down” in Chesa Boudin’s San Francisco

This week the San Francisco District Attorney’s office released new data about his handling of various crimes while in office. The San Francisco Chronicle has a lengthy analysis of those decisions but the overall gist is visible in this one graph:

The graph above is for all crime but the data also showed the results for specific categories of crime:

When it comes to drug cases, conviction is now less likely than dismissal or diversion and the situation is even more dramatic for petty theft, which includes things like shoplifting and car break-ins. Look at the second chart below and you’ll see a pretty good explanation of why these types of crime are on the rise. Consequences are minimal even for the relatively small number of people who are arrested.

From the story:

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has sent a greater percentage of defendants in robbery, assault and drug cases to pretrial diversion programs than his predecessor, while obtaining convictions in a smaller share of those cases, according to data released by his office and analyzed by The Chronicle…

“What we’ve tried to do over the two years I’ve been in office is the exact thing that I promised voters I would do, which is increase access to diversion drug treatment programs, mental health care programs for folks on the lower end of the spectrum, and increase resources and staffing and traditional prosecutorial focus on the most serious crimes, consistent with that promise to voters,” he said.

The result of this has been a significant drop in the number of people in jail which was one of Boudin’s major goals. What the charts above don’t show is that Boudin’s office has also “charged down” more felony assault crimes than his predecessor (fellow progressive DA George Gascon who is now the DA in Los Angeles). The Chronicle compared two datasets it received from the DA’s office, one showing the crimes for which individuals were arrested and booked and another showing how cases were actually charged by the DA. Here’s what the comparison revealed:

We found that under Boudin in 2020 and 2021, nearly 40% of charged cases originally booked as felony assaults were prosecuted under a different charge — compared with roughly 33% under Gascón in 2018 and 2019. The difference in these rates in robbery prosecutions was smaller but still present.

It is likely most of the differently charged cases are getting prosecuted as lesser crimes, not more serious ones, though this precise information is missing from the data. Boudin confirmed that many defendants booked by police will get charged with other, often lesser offenses as investigations progress…

In his interview with The Chronicle, Boudin said there are many reasons his office might file charges in a case different from the most serious category booked by the police. Prosecutors may conclude they cannot prove a booked offense beyond a reasonable doubt, or new information about a case may come to light after it is booked and police have investigated further — DNA test results, say, or a statement by a key witness.

I don’t think anyone would dispute that there could be additional information and evidence that comes in after an arrest. In some cases that is going to result in lesser charges. But that doesn’t explain why more felony assaults are suddenly being charged down than they were under the previous progressive DA. Boudin doesn’t try to explain that he just talks around it.

Brooke Jenkins, a former prosecutor who now supports the Boudin recall effort tweeted out her thoughts on the story.

I’ll leave you with this clip posted yesterday by Libs of Tik Tok. Just another day of brazen shoplifting in SF which Boudin’s office will promptly ignore.

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