Person

Chesa Boudin

Born:

August 21, 1980

Nationality:

American

Organization:

San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

Chesa Boudin is a lawyer and as of early 2022 the district attorney of San Francisco.

Boudin was the child of two members of the radical-left extremist group Weathermen who were incarcerated for murder shortly after his birth. He later spent time with numerous far- and radical-left groups in Central and South America. After earning a Rhodes Scholarship and a law degree from Yale, Boudin worked in the San Francisco district attorney’s office for five years before his election.

In 2022, Boudin faces a recall over his conduct as DA. Boudin has been criticized for being soft on crime, with critics alleging his left-wing de-incarceration and decriminalization policies led to an unprecedented boom in San Francisco crime. Critics also allege that he mismanaged his office, causing an exodus of attorneys from the office.

Early Life and Education

Chesa Boudin was born in New York City in 1980. His family has a history in radical-left movements; his parents were members of the Weather Underground, a violent extremist group active in the 1960s and 1970s. When Boudin was 14 months old, his parents were arrested and later convicted for their roles in the robbery of an armored car that led to the deaths of two police officers and a guard. Boudin’s mother was released from prison in 2003, and his father was released in 2021 after outgoing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) granted him clemency at Boudin’s urging. During his parent’s imprisonment, Boudin’s legal guardians were radical-left academics and former Weathermen leaders Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who moved Boudin to Chicago. [1] [2]

Boudin was diagnosed with dyslexia and a mild form of epilepsy, and he initially struggled in school. But at the University of Chicago’s prestigious Laboratory Schools, he rose to the top of his class. [3] [4]

During and after high school, Boudin traveled to Central and South America, where he learned more about Latin American radical-left movements, being welcomed by socialist and communist factions due to his connection to the Weathermen. Upon witnessing the elections of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and socialist Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, Boudin said: “When else in the region’s history have so many democratically elected, progressive, charismatic leaders been in power at the same time?” Boudin would eventually get a job as a translator for Chavez’s administration, which was criticized by opponents as an increasingly authoritarian regime through Chavez’s life. [5]

After earning a BA from Yale University, Boudin attended Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he earned two master’s degrees. He later returned to Yale to earn a law degree. [6] [7]

Early Career

After graduating from Yale Law School, Chesa Boudin served as a clerk at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2011-2012, and then at a U.S. District Court from 2013-2014. [8]

In 2015, Boudin became deputy public defender in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. [9] In 2016, Boudin became treasurer and board member of the Civil Rights Corps, a criminal justice reform group. [10]

San Francisco District Attorney

In 2019, Chesa Boudin ran for San Francisco district attorney on a platform of reducing incarceration, reducing penalties for drug abuse, and inflicting harsher punishments on police brutality. His family’s past was incorporated into his campaign as evidence of Boudin’s expertise in criminal justice reform. Boudin’s three competitors were all left-progressive and favored reducing incarceration. [11] Boudin narrowly won the election with 50.8% of the vote on the third count of ranked-choice voting. [12]

Policies

Boudin has pursued a policy of aggressive de-incarceration and de facto decriminalization. His first major policy was to launch a diversion program for parents charged with crimes. [13] To reduce racial disparity, Boudin announced that San Francisco would no longer prosecute drug charges from pretextual traffic stops or enhance sentences for gang affiliations. [14] Boudin ended cash bail and replaced it with a system where judges hold or release the accused based on a risk assessment. [15] In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boudin reduced the San Francisco prison population by 40%. [16]

Boudin also took measures to crack down on police brutality and police power. He joined a group of prosecutors across the state calling for the State Bar of California to prohibit police unions from donating to a prosecutor’s political campaign. [17]

Recall

In November 2021, enough signatures were gathered to launch a recall election against Boudin the following year. According to the New York Times, Boudin faces opposition from both the right and left. Opponents to Boudin’s right cited public safety concerns arising from his lenient prosecution policies, which have coincided with a general rise in crime across the United States. Arrests in San Francisco have fallen considerably under Boudin, while the city continues to suffer from rampant homelessness, drug use, and property crimes. [18]

In 2020, San Francisco experienced a 46% increase in burglaries, partially driven by 30 “prolific” repeat offenders who had escaped prosecution and conviction. [19] Boudin has been repeatedly criticized for releasing or refusing to prosecute repeat offenders. Police Chief Bill Scott has said that he “can’t discount” that there is a rift between the police department and the district attorney’s office. [20]

Meanwhile, left-progressive opponents have been disappointed by mismanagement in Boudin’s office, which has led to a high rate of employee turnover. One attorney who resigned stated: “It’s my perception that Chesa lacks a desire to actually and effectively prosecute crime, in any fashion.” [21]

References

  1. Heyman, J.D. “Free Thinker.” People. December 23, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://people.com/archive/free-thinker-vol-58-no-26/. ^
  2. Wilgoren, Jodi. “From a Radical Background, a Rhodes Scholar Emerges.” New York Times. December 9, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/09/us/from-a-radical-background-a-rhodes-scholar-emerges.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm. ^
  3. Heyman, J.D. “Free Thinker.” People. December 23, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://people.com/archive/free-thinker-vol-58-no-26/. ^
  4. Wilgoren, Jodi. “From a Radical Background, a Rhodes Scholar Emerges.” New York Times. December 9, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/09/us/from-a-radical-background-a-rhodes-scholar-emerges.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm. ^
  5.  Gonzales, Richard. “’Gringo,’ by Chelsea Boudin.” SFGate. April 26, 2009. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.sfgate.com/books/article/Gringo-by-Chesa-Boudin-3243747.php. ^
  6. Heyman, J.D. “Free Thinker.” People. December 23, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://people.com/archive/free-thinker-vol-58-no-26/. ^
  7. Wilgoren, Jodi. “From a Radical Background, a Rhodes Scholar Emerges.” New York Times. December 9, 2002. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/09/us/from-a-radical-background-a-rhodes-scholar-emerges.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm. ^
  8. “Chesa Boudin.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/chesa-boudin-884a14ab/. ^
  9. “Chesa Boudin.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/chesa-boudin-884a14ab/. ^
  10. “Chesa Boudin.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/chesa-boudin-884a14ab/. ^
  11. Arango, Tim. “Dad’s in Prison, Mom Was on Parole. Their Son Is Now Running for D.A.” New York Times. May 24, 2019. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/us/chesa-boudin-san-francisco-da.html. ^
  12. “Chesa Boudin.” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://ballotpedia.org/Chesa_Boudin. ^
  13. Sernoffsky, Evan. “SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin launches diversion program for parents facing criminal charges.” SF Chronicle. January 14, 2020. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/SF-District-Attorney-Chesa-Boudin-launches-14975839.php. ^
  14. Johnson, MaryJane. “DA Boudin to stop charging for contraband at traffic stops, gang enhancements.” San Fransisco Examiner. February 28, 2020. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/da-boudin-to-stop-charging-for-contraband-at-traffic-stops-gang-enhancements/. ^
  15. Sernoffsky, Evan. “San Fransisco DA Chesa Boudin ends cash bail for all criminal cases.” SF Chronicle. January 14, 2020. Accessed January 22, 2022. https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/San-Francisco-DA-Chesa-Boudin-ends-cash-bail-for-14996400.php. ^
  16. Gross, Terry. “How San Fransisco’s D.A. Is Decreasing The Jail Population Amid Covid-19.” NPR. April 9, 2020. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2020/04/09/829955754/son-of-60s-radicals-is-the-new-d-a-in-san-francisco-facing-the-covid-19-crisis/. ^
  17. Kamisher, Eliyahu. “California D.A.s Call for Ban on Police Union Money and Endorsements In Prosecutorial Elections.” The Appeal. June 3, 2020. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://theappeal.org/california-das-call-for-ban-on-police-union-money-and-endorsements-in-prosecutorial-elections/. ^
  18. Arango, Tim. “San Fransisco’s Top Prosecutor Will Face a Recall Election.” New York Times. November 10, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/us/san-francisco-recall-chesa-boudin.html. ^
  19. Barba, Michael. “’Prolific’ offenders help drive 46% surge in SF burglaries.” San Fransisco Examiner. December 16, 2020. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/prolific-offenders-help-drive-46-surge-in-sf-burglaries/. ^
  20. [1] Barmann, Jay. “’60 Minutes+’ Asks SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin About Crime, and Releasing Repeat Offenders.” SFist. March 29, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://sfist.com/2021/03/29/60-minutes-profiles-sf-district-attorney-chesa-boudin-visits-the-tenderloin-discusses-uptick-in-crime/. ^
  21. Arango, Tim. “San Fransisco’s Top Prosecutor Will Face a Recall Election.” New York Times. November 10, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/us/san-francisco-recall-chesa-boudin.html. ^
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