letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Safety and Justice Requires Balance

Editor:

I strongly support recalling Chesa Boudin as a necessary step to make our neighborhood and our city safer. 

Here’s why:   

No one in the Richmond District can look in the mirror and honestly tell themselves that crime is down in their neighborhood.  Just walk down any business corridor and ask shopkeepers which shops have been burglarized or vandalized recently. The answer you’ll get is “most of them.” Or, pick a block on any random avenue and ask residents which garages, homes and cars have been burglarized and neighbors will immediately point to an array of homes.    

Small business burglaries and smashed windows have become a daily phenomenon and the open shoplifting buffets that our grocery and drug stores have become are evident to anyone who spends more than 10 minutes inside one. Some neighbors even report they’ve stopped shopping in our business corridors, because of the crime, filthy conditions and unpredictable dangers presented by the influx of drug users splayed across sidewalks and doorways. Some neighbors have just decided to move out of SF. Armed home invasions, sideshows with gunfire, and dangerous car chase now frequent the local police blotter. Moreover, dozens of tourists are being robbed daily of their belongings, many at gunpoint. To a person, they all say the same thing: “I’m not coming back to San Francisco.”          

Some neighbors casually dismiss the wave of property, quality-of-life-crime, vandalism, smash and grabs and shoplifting as victimless, harmless crimes. “Insurance will cover it,” is a common refrain. But insurance doesn’t cover or heal the sense of violation, terror and decreased safety that victims experience. Nor does it reduce the anxiety of grocery and drugstore workers, who tell me they are scared that the daily shoplifting losses will lead to layoffs or reduced hours. For immigrant restaurant owners, a smashed shop window is a $1,000+ deductible expense they can’t afford. As a beloved, busy local small business owner on Clement St. admitted to me recently, “being burglarized numerous times has me on the brink. I have a family to feed. I may have to shut down.” And insurance surely doesn’t bring traumatized tourists back to our city.    

Being a victim of crime has become the new normal in our neighborhood. Anyone who’s lived here long enough knows that things are deteriorating, and it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Yes, the pandemic has shifted many things in our city, including crime, but the biggest change that we can pinpoint and correlate to the dramatic crime increase is DA Chesa Boudin. A scapegoat for everything bad happening? No. But his policies and priorities have made our city and neighborhood demonstrably much less safe in a relatively short amount of time.       

Open-air drug dealing continues unabated at devastating levels due to Boudin’s refusal to prosecute drug dealers. Violent and repeat criminals are now routed to diversion justice programs that were never designed to handle the volume or severity of their crimes. Boudin dissolved gang and car break-in units of the DA’s office. He claims that he files charges in most cases, but a closer look reveals that charges are usually dropped or lessened substantially. Moreover, Boudin has fostered an adversarial, toxic relationship with SFPD (the officers he’s supposed to partner with to reduce crime). This chaotic mix has produced predictable results. Crime has spiked because Chesa simply doesn’t believe in three important elements of criminal justice: deterrents, accountability, and consequences.

We all believe in criminal justice reform, rehabilitation, reducing mass incarceration, and addressing the root causes of crime. All are priorities worthy of our time, energy and investment. But Chesa’s one-sided experiment to solve these problems from the DA’s desk by eliminating strong, effective, competent prosecution from the equation has left our criminal justice system totally unbalanced with essentially what amounts to two Public Defender’s offices. It’s a welcome mat for those bent on doing harm in our community.   

Let’s restore balance and start on a path to a safer neighborhood and city. I encourage my neighbors to Vote Yes on H and recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin on June 7th.

Mark Dietrich

5 replies »

  1. Mr. Dietrich, I heard the interview with DA Boudin on KQED a few days ago. He paints a totally different picture: He is charging more crimes than ever, doing serious prosecutions, diverting to restorative programs. Per Mr.Boudin, the problem is that SFPD is not doing their job, and that the leaders of the Recall are doing so for ambitious reasons, that the judges are letting the accused go…. The DA sounded great, but as a life time resident of San Francisco, I’ve never seen it so bad. Something has to change NOW. When our friends visit with their camper, we need to completely empty out all their visible items and hope the van doesn’t get trashed. Some of my friends won’t take BART to most SF stops. Shelves are largely locked up at Walgreen’s. Reports on NextDoor tell of crimes occuring several times a day. Teachers and children are not safe in certain schools. The unions are almost all for Boudin, but the residents feel unprotected and unheard. I’m a life time Democrat and voted for Bernie twice – but something has to change. It’s nice to care about the poor criminal, but we also need to care about the poor hard working residents who are their victims.

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  2. It’s a shame how short sided the Recall supporters are. Chesa Boudin was elected because of his vision for a better San Francisco and for approaches which aren’t mass incarceration for the poorest among us. Yes, it’s scary when you are the victim, but Mr. Dietrich is fully aware that his picture is a gross exaggeration. He knows that Walgreens was closing long before a viral video showed one man committing a crime. A crime similar to one which occurred in a Walgreens NOT in San Francisco, where the monied interests opposing our progressive DA aren’t heard to complain. He knows that if the unhoused aren’t provided with housing, bathrooms, food, etcetera, they’ve got no place to defecate other than our streets. Unpleasant? Yes.Chesa’s fault? NO!

    Anyone who reads data knows that prosecutors – progressive, reform or regressive – are not to blame for most crime. That includes Chesa Boudin. Crime rates have everything to do with social situations – poverty, mental health, lack of resources for drug users. Chesa Boudin does not lie about the statistics. When the police make arrests (around 1% of home burglaries, equally low for car break-ins), Chesa’s office prosecutes. And, like every prosecutor in the history of California, the vast majority of those prosecutions result in out of court resolutions. If every case went to trial, our criminal legal system would be unable to handle the trials.

    Moreover, the criticism of diversion is misguided. When a case is diverted, stringent programs are set up for the defendant. Charges are not dropped. If the defendant fails in the programs (e.g., drug treatment, maintain employment, get therapy, stay away from the victim), the case is prosecuted. When a defendant isn’t diverted, s/he may be convicted, may go to jail and gets no services, no help. Again, data matters. The recidivism rate for diversion is substantially lower than that of conviction and jail.

    Chesa Boudin was elected on a program of reform. Just 2 months after he was sworn in, COVID lockdown happened. The courts were closed. Despite the closures, despite being forced to run his office over Zoom, Chesa Boudin implemented many programs which helped our community. He arranged for safe housing for DV victims, enabling them to lockdown separate from their abusers. He made set up the most extensive and diverse victim services program ever known in San Francisco, including a property crime victims unit. He established a program to reimburse small businesses who suffered broken windows. He sued ghost gun manufacturers. He is seeking to protect small business victims of ADA abusive lawsuits. He treats rich and poor alike in not seeking bail, but asking the court to look at other relevant factors in determining pre-trial release. Chesa Boudin recognizes that we must address the huge income inequality issues which give rise to much of the criminal behavior you complain about.

    Again, the data from the SFPD dashboard establishes that crime in San Francisco is down. This recall was never about crime in San Francisco. When violent crime was high in the 90s, who blamed the DA? When car break-ins were soaring pre-Chesa and pre-COVID, who blamed the DA? The Tenderloin has been San Francisco’s Skid Row for time immemorial. Until Chesa Boudin was elected DA, who blamed the DA? San Francisco needs Chesa Boudin and others like him to get to our root problems. Until that happens, crime will never go down in San Francisco.

    Vote NO!!! On Prop H. For the Bernie supporter, it’s what Bernie would want you to do. Because, like Chesa Boudin, Bernie wants to fix income inequality and make San Francisco the safest place it can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mr. Dietrich,

    Thank you very much for being another voice of reason in our city, it’s so sad that so many in this city are blind to see what Mr. Boudin truly is, a defense attorney cosplaying a district attorney. Do these blind followers not realize this is the very man that has made his entire life’s work defending criminals? And this is what he continues to do to this day by putting in jeopardy the safety of all the residents and visitors to our beloved city! Why are people so blind to this, it just makes me sick! Clearly we all know recalling Mr. Boudin will not stop crime in San Francisco, that’s a ridiculous thought, what H is doing is sending a strong message to the criminal network of the Bay Area that San Francisco will not tolerate open and fearless lawlessness crime in our city, enough is ENOUGH! Lets pray and hope H will pass by a landslide come June 7th

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