By Ken Epstein
Running for San Francisco District Attorney to challenge the system of mass incarceration, SF Deputy Public Defender Chesa Boudin has gained the backing of civil rights attorney Pamela Price and other East Bay progressives.
“The system is broken,” Boudin said, speaking at a fundraiser in Oakland on Sunday, June 23. ” If we can’t do better in San Francisco, in the Bay Area, where can we do better?”
Hosting the fundraiser were Price; civil rights icon Howard Moore Jr; Fania Davis, a leading national voice on restorative justice; Allyssa Victory, Shirley Golub, Royl Roberts and Sheryl Walton. Boudin’s San Francisco endorsements include former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Democratic Party Chair David Campos and Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Aaron Peskin and Sandra Fewer.
Boudin has served as Deputy Public Defender since 2015, handling over 300 felony cases. He is running against Suzy Loftus, Nancy Tung, and Leif Dautch – who hope to succeed eight-year incumbent DA George Gascón, who is not running for reelection. The election takes place on Nov. 5.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Boudin earned a masters’ degree in public policy and is a Rhodes Scholar. His campaign emphasizes that he knows “firsthand the destructive impacts of mass incarceration.” He was only 14 months old when his parents were incarcerated for driving the getaway car “in a robbery that tragically took the lives of three men.” His mother served 22 years, and his father may never get out.
Introducing Boudin at the fundraiser, Price said, “When I heard about this young man, I did my research. I was blown away immediately. We have a real warrior among us. We have someone who has overcome obstacles, whose life, profession and whose spirit epitomizes what we need in our district attorney.”
“We know that our criminal justice system has been completely corrupted by injustice and racism,” she continued. “(The system) is upheld and sustained by people who practice it and are committed to its perpetuation… Chesa is in so many ways our greatest hope.”
In his remarks, Boudin called for an end to criminal justice practices that are institutionalized but have clearly failed.
“We know that we have 25 percent of the world’s prison population in the U.S., and 2.2 million people are behind bars on any single day,” he said.
“We’re promised equal justice under the law, but instead we have discriminatory money bail,” he said. “We believe in treating the mentally ill and the drug addicted, but instead this system puts them in solitary confinement.”
Boudin’s program includes creation of a “Wrongful Conviction Unit,” would decide whether to reopen the investigation of certain cases, eliminating cash bail, effectively prosecuting police misconduct and refocusing resources to work on serious and violent felonies.
“(Change) has to start with people who understand how profoundly broken the system is, not just because they read it in a book but because they experienced it,” he said.
For more information about Chesa Boudin’s campaign, go to www.chesaboudin.com/
Published July 3, 2019, courtesy of the Oakland Post