SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco’s new district attorney announced on Wednesday that she has revoked more than 30 pending plea deals offered to suspected fentanyl drug dealers by her controversial predecessor.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins is enforcing new policies that are a far cry from the city’s recalled district attorney, Chesa Boudin.
Jenkins said one of the revoked plea deals includes an “egregious case” involving one man who was arrested six times for allegedly selling fentanyl in the Tenderloin. Each time, he was referred to San Francisco’s Community Justice Court, despite violating the terms of a stay away order from the Tenderloin. Under Boudin’s tenure, the man was offered a single misdemeanor conviction to settle all six cases, according to Jenkins’ office.
The District Attorney’s Office stated that the new policies for holding drug dealers accountable would prohibit dealers arrested with more than five grams of drugs from being referred to the CJC, seek harsher penalties for drug dealers arrested near schools, and seek pre-trial detention of fentanyl dealers “in extreme cases.”
Tenderloin residents reported that drug dealers openly sold deadly narcotics without fear of criminal consequences, further fueling an opioid overdose crisis.
“Since 2020, nearly 1,5000 people have died of drug overdose in part because dealers have been allowed to operate with impunity,” Jenkins said Wednesday.
“The lethality of fentanyl presents a different challenge, and we must immediately change course, so we can save lives and hold people accountable for the havoc they are wreaking in our communities like the Tenderloin and South of Market,” Jenkins said.
For all of 2021, when Boudin was in charge, zero fentanyl drug dealers were convicted in court, Jenkins’ office stated. Boudin’s lack of prosecutions against suspected drug dealers also came under scrutiny earlier this year when a 16-year-old girl overdosed on fentanyl in the SoMa neighborhood and her body was found on a sidewalk.
“We must make it easier to get help than it is to get high. We will work together to hold dealers accountable,” Boudin wrote at the time of the girl’s death.
The San Francisco Police Officer’s Association fired back to Boudin, “When you give an army of drug dealers same-day release, when you trivialize enforcing laws to hold dealers and gang leaders accountable, and when you make up tales of why we should feel sorry for those pushing drugs, this happens. People die. Kids die. Shame on you.”
A review of open narcotics sales cases, ordered by Jenkins in one of her first actions as district attorney, found that there are approximately 156 open narcotics sales (or possession for sale cases) in collaborative courts. More than half the cases are for suspected fentanyl dealers.
Jenkins said her prosecutors will make an individualized determination for each offender in each case, based on a spectrum of factors, including whether they are a first time or repeat offender, the amount of drugs they are arrested with, and the location of the arrest.
For each of the plea deals revoked so far, the District Attorney’s Office will seek a felony charge that includes jail time as part of the new offer.