ISSUES

Holding Drug Dealers Accountable & Connecting Users to Treatments

My strategy to keep drug dealers off the streets is simple: send a clear message that there will be severe consequences for plaguing our City with deadly drugs that are killing San Franciscans.

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Since 2020, more than 1,500 people have died of drug overdoses because dealers had been allowed to operate with impunity, particularly dealing fentanyl. As your District Attorney, I’ve introduced a new policy to prohibit serious drug dealers from being referred to the City’s Community Justice Court (CJC), put an enhancement on the table for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, and are seeking pre-trial detention in extreme drug dealing cases.

The days are over when drug dealers go unpunished in the face of one of the worst drug crises our City has ever experienced. The lethality of fentanyl presents a different challenge, and we must immediately change course to save lives by holding dealers accountable.

At the same time, arrests and prosecution won’t end open air drug markets alone. We have to get those suffering from drug addiction the help they need to turn their lives around. I established a new policy that mandates those cited for public drug use five times get sent to our Community Justice Court where they will get connected to services and treatment programs.

When someone reaches five citations for public drug use, that is a clear signal that they are in a crisis and need support. Addressing substance use and addiction in our community requires an all-hands-on-deck approach that includes the criminal justice system.

Ending rampant drug dealing requires measurable consequences, not a slap on the wrist. The previous administration’s drug policy had no weight limit threshold, did not follow CJC guidelines, and allowed drug dealers, arrested with multiple cases and as much as 500 grams of fentanyl be referred to the CJC. According to The San Francisco Standard, the previous administration did not obtain a single felony conviction for dealing fentanyl in all of 2021.

Consequences for Violent and Repeat Offenders

I believe that prioritizing public safety is the top priority for the District Attorney’s Office and that means holding offenders accountable. My office will prosecute and ensure that violent and repeat offenders are brought to justice.

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During the pandemic, there’s been a spike in crimes committed by repeat offenders and a rise in violent crimes, sadly exemplified by the case involving Troy McAllister, a violent, repeat offender who the previous administration didn’t hold accountable and killed two innocent bystanders on New Years’ Eve in 2020.

Violent and repeat offenders will be held accountable through swift prosecution and deterrence.  My office has revoked 30 lenient plea deals for drug dealers brought by the previous administration to ensure there is increased accountability and an understanding for those who continue to deal deadly drugs that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Additionally, my office has filed multiple felony charges against assailants in violent attacks on our community leaders, former city Commissioner Gregory Chew, and Western Addition community leader James Spingola. These felony charges are critical in seeking to hold violent offenders accountable and restoring confidence in our criminal justice system. Under my watch, egregious attacks like these will never be tolerated in San Francisco. These felony charges send a strong message that the safety of every community in San Francisco is a top priority for my office and there will be consequences for anyone who engages in violence.

Combating Violence Against the AAPI Community + Vulnerable Populations

I have years of experience prosecuting hate crimes as our office's former designated hate crime prosecutor, and am committed to seeking justice for our AAPI and all communities who have been the victims of violent attacks.

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In 2021 alone, hate crimes against Asian Americans in our city rose 567%. We must send a clear message that those who have  shaken the confidence of our communities will be held accountable and face jail time for violence. My vision of success constitutes a safer city, one where all communities feel heard and protected.

After listening to the concerns of AAPI leaders, my office has redirected resources to address this troubling and ongoing situation. I’ve requested a review of all cases involving violence against AAPI victims to ensure their offenders are charged appropriately, with hate crime charges if warranted. Additionally, we are working to hire more interpreters so that all of our diverse communities have full access to services in the District Attorney’s Office.

My administration has created a new Vulnerable Victims Unit within the criminal prosecutions division to better serve vulnerable victims through dedicated resources to prosecute crimes targeting the vulnerable, and expanded services for victims including hate crimes, violence against the elderly, and elderly financial abuse. This new unit ensures that staff can adequately meet expectations and serve vulnerable victims with the attention and resources these serious crimes deserve.

Smart Criminal Justice Reforms

As a Black and Latina woman, I have seen the disproportionate impacts of our justice system firsthand. The inequity in the criminal justice system is not theoretical for me – it is part of my lived experience. It is a part of why I do this work.

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Reforms are absolutely necessary to ensure that justice is fairly executed for every person in San Francisco regardless of skin color or where you come from. The true goal of criminal justice reform is to create and enhance alternatives to incarceration, and to ensure that everyone in the criminal justice system is treated equitably and fairly. Holding offenders accountable does not preclude us from moving forward with implementing vital criminal justice reform.

Connecting Public Drug Users to Services + Treatment

In order to fight against our public drug use and overdose crisis, we must have a more realistic and grounded approach to those struggling with addiction.

Under our Office’s misdemeanor drug possession policy, those dealing with substance addiction who have received five citations will be directed to the Community Justice Center (CJC) to access treatment and services. Addressing substance use and addiction in our community requires an all-hands-on-deck approach that includes the criminal justice system. This policy takes into account both accountability and compassion for substance users by using the criminal justice system to connect those struggling with addiction to the treatment facilities and services they need to recover.

When someone reaches five citations for public drug use, that is a clear signal that they are in a crisis and need support. The Community Justice Center’s purpose is to help those struggling with substance abuse get the help they need, it is not the venue for drug dealers who, in the past, have been directed to the CJC when arrested with up to 100 grams of fentanyl.

Elimination of Cash Bail In Most Instances

My office will evaluate every pre-trial release decision on a case-by-case basis while considering victim safety, the protection of the public, the seriousness of the offense, previous criminal records, and the probability of the defendant’s appearance in court.

These evaluating factors allow for our Office to make holistic and informative decisions, ensuring consideration of less restrictive alternatives such as protective orders, electronic monitoring, and home detention.

Financial means should not play a role in the decision-making process to detain or release defendants. All San Franciscans are entitled to the same consideration of release and detention with measurable factors, regardless of their financial background.

Pre-Trial Release and Detention is a powerful tool of the criminal justice system intended to prioritize victim and public safety and the defendant's return to court. However, historically cash bail has disproportionately affected people of color and low-income communities. My office will use cash bail with the primary goal of keeping our community safe, while determining the most effective release and detention policy for each defendant.