San Francisco Mayor London Breed chose former prosecutor Brooke Jenkins to be The City’s next district attorney.
Voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin in June.
Jenkins, Black and Latina, served with the District Attorney’s Office for seven years, as assistant district attorney from 2014 to 2021. She served with the Misdemeanor and Felonies Units before becoming a hate crimes prosecutor.
Breed also considered former district attorney candidate Nancy Tung and District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, but ultimately chose Jenkins. The new DA was a prominent spokesperson in the effort to recall her predecessor.
At a press conference from City Hall, Breed said she approached the district attorney decision similarly to choosing school board members after February’s recall.
She said she spoke with prosecutors, judges and “everyday people” during the process, noting that people want accountability in the District Attorney’s Office.
The mayor said:
“In almost every single instance, and talking to those who support it and oppose the recall, and talking to those who were victims and former perpetrators of crime in our city — people from all of the spectrums — what they wanted most out of a district attorney in this city was someone, who, yes, would make sure that reforms are not forgotten, but…accountability had to be an important part of the equation.”
The mayor also spoke about balancing accountability and criminal justice reform, believing Jenkins can strike that balance.
“Brooke comes from a place of fairness. This is not just about locking people up and throwing away the key. This is not what we’re about in the city. This is about striking a balance and doing what’s right.”
Jenkins said The City is at “tipping point” where residents don’t feel safe. Promising to hold people accountable for crimes, she said:
“As your next district attorney, I will restore accountability and consequences to our criminal justice system here in San Francisco. Violence and repeat offenders will no longer be allowed to victimize our city without consequence.”
Jenkins also addressed hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islander communities, saying:
“Our Asian community can no longer continue to live in fear of being attacked simply because of who they are as they go about their daily lives in this city.”
The new district attorney said she intends to tackle the Tenderloin’s open-air drug market, enforcing The City’s drug crime laws from “minute one.”
Echoing the mayor’s sentiment, Jenkins said that while criminals will be held accountable, the District Attorney’s Office will not be deterred from moving forward with reforms. On a personal level, Jenkins said she has family members who have experienced both sides of the law, as offenders and victims, adding:
“These inequities are not theoretical. They are a part of my lived experience, and they are a part of why I do this work.”
Critics have pounced on Jenkins, who they believe will reign with a tough-on-crime approach. Opponents have also questioned her ethics as a prosecutor. Jenkins defends her record, saying:
“(I) served as an ethical and fair prosecutor every step of the way and I’ve never been found to have done otherwise.”
Jenkins is not unknown to The City’s residents. After leaving the District Attorney’s Office, she joined the campaign to recall Boudin in a very public and vocal way. She appeared in a number of television campaign ads and gave several media interviews lambasting Boudin and his policies.
She has in the past indicated she may reinstate controversial policies like cash bail, “strikes” on previous convictions and adult charges for some juveniles. Boudin had rolled those policies back on the belief they disproportionately impact low-income residents and communities of color.
In order to keep her job as the DA, Jenkins will need to sway voters in the Nov. 8 election. If she wins, she will serve out the remainder of Boudin’s term, which runs through 2023.
Boudin told the San Francisco Chronicle that he hasn’t ruled out running in either the upcoming general election or next year.
Frustrated residents who recalled Boudin will expect swift change under the mayor’s appointment. Without Boudin to blame for crime rates, Breed and Jenkins face heavy scrutiny.
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. He covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent over a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a native in the city and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Email tips to [email protected]