There's a new sheriff in town. Well, at least, district attorney. Following the ouster of Chesa Boudin in a June 7, 2022 recall election, the newly-appointed San Francisco District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins, has fired fifteen career prosecutors within eight days of her appointment. Her predecessor's progressive policies on crime and safety had made San Francisco a no-go area for locals and visitors alike, and the first actions of the incoming D.A. were clearly intended to try to restore public confidence in her office and the city.
Commenting on the firings, District Attorney Jenkins stated that she made "difficult, but important changes to my management team and staff that will help advance my vision to restore a sense of safety in San Francisco by holding serious and repeat offenders accountable and implementing smart criminal justice reforms." In the run-up to her predecessor's recall, video footage of people shoplifting and attacking seniors, particularly Asian Americans, had gone viral and rattled residents.
She acknowledged that she had promised the public that she would "restore accountability and consequences to the criminal justice system while advancing smart reforms responsibly." Jenkins added that her new management team, including three women of color, would help the office deliver on those promises and continued "I have full faith and confidence that these women will promote and protect public safety while delivering justice in all of its various forms."
I am thrilled to announce new members of my management team of experienced prosecutors that will help our office deliver on my promise to improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, advocate for victims, and enact smart criminal justice reforms. https://t.co/QgSgFtzSWW— Brooke Jenkins 謝安宜 (@BrookeJenkinsSF) July 15, 2022
The dismissed prosecutors included Managing Attorney Arcelia Hurtado, who served as the district attorney’s representative on the city’s Innocence Commission, established by Chesa Boudin to investigate potential wrongful convictions in San Francisco. Hurtado did not go quietly, tweeting:
After over 2 years of tireless and devoted service to the City and Cty of SF, I was unceremoniously fired without cause via phone by the Mayor's appointed DA. I am the highest ranking Latina/LGBTQ member of the management team at that office. I will continue the fight 4justice— Arcelia Hurtado (@ArceliaHurtado) July 15, 2022
Interestingly, Brook Jennings does not appear to equate the progressive nature of the previous policies with the appalling state of downtown San Francisco. Her predecessor had merely failed to execute them appropriately. The Associated Press paraphrased Jenkins on the matter:
Jenkins, who also considers herself a progressive prosecutor, said during the campaign that Boudin was too rigid. He eliminated cash bail for defendants and declared that minors would not be tried as adults, no matter how serious the crime. Jenkins said she would like those tools available for prosecutors to use at their discretion.
For now, however, fifteen career prosecutors have been swept out of power in a city that may be starting to wake up to its problems. They will no longer be in a position to respond to San Francisco's terrible crime and safety problems by failing to prosecute the criminals.