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Ousted soft-on-crime San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin to run Berkeley Law’s new criminal justice center

Former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a controversial progressive prosecutor who was booted by voters last year over his soft-on-crime policies, is taking the helm of a new criminal justice center at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Boudin, 42, was named the executive director of the school’s Criminal Law & Justice Center, he announced in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed Wednesday.

“In my new role, just as I did as district attorney, I will continue to draw on networks of advocates, activists, judges and legal practitioners to support reform and advance safety in ways that are rigorous, principled and responsive to the lived experiences of directly impacted communities,” he wrote.

“The center will systematically evaluate the outcomes of specific policies and communicate to the public which policy changes are essential to enhancing public safety and justice,” Boudin said.

“Electoral politics will only take the criminal justice reform movement so far. Winning a few big elections isn’t enough, on its own, to create lasting change. I learned a lot while in office, including that how people feel often matters more than data and facts.”

Boudin, who came under fire as a soft-on-crime prosecutor in the Golden City, was voted out of office in a recall election in June — and announced in August that he would not try to reclaim the post.

Chase Boudin

Critics griped that the lefty DA’s policies contributed to a spike in crime in the city, with drug dealers peddling their wares in public and shoplifting and robberies rampant.

Some 60% of San Francisco voters cast ballots in favor of a recall.

But in his op-ed piece, Boudin stuck to his progressive guns, and claimed that it was Republicans and the “sensationalistic media” who made public safety an issue — calling it a “manufactured frenzy.”

“In New York state, officials rolled back pretrial release reforms for poor people who can’t afford bail,” Boudin said.

UC Berkeley
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“Meanwhile, despite widespread claims about being defunded, police budgets across the country surged without any demands for accountability.

“Even in liberal San Francisco, the mayor’s office closed a supervised drug consumption site while ratcheting up policing of drug users with results as predictable as they are tragic: The city is suffering its most fatal year of overdoses on record, by far.”

At Berkeley, Boudin will conduct research and advocate for criminal justice reform, the school’s dean said in a release announcing the move.

“Since coming to Berkeley Law, I have wanted to create a criminal law and justice center to further advance the important work of our tremendous faculty and clinics in this area,” Berkely Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said in a statement.

“I am delighted to launch the center and that Chesa Boudin will be its first executive director,” Chemerinsky said.

“Chesa was chosen after a national search and has substantial experience across the criminal justice system. He has thought deeply about the system, and I cannot think of anyone better to create and direct this important center.”

Boudin is the son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, who were members of the far-left Weather Underground terrorist organization.

Both were convicted of murder and served decades in prison for the deadly 1981 Brink’s armored truck heist in Rockland County, New York.

The 14-month-old future DA was raised in Chicago by adoptive parents.

“Both of my biological parents were arrested when I was a baby and spent a combined 62 years in prison,” Boudin wrote in his op-ed.

“A lifetime of visiting them behind bars, together with the years I spent as a public defender and then an elected prosecutor, taught me how catastrophically California and the nation’s current approach to justice are failing.”