DA Boudin and Fentanyl: Court Data Shows Just 3 Drug Dealing Convictions in 2021 as Immigration Concerns Shaped Policy

THE SF STANDARD:

Despite a surging fentanyl crisis that killed nearly 500 people last year in San Francisco, the office of District Attorney Chesa Boudin did not secure a single conviction for dealing the deadly opioid for cases filed during 2021, according to a review of court data.

Case information The Standard obtained from San Francisco Superior Court shows Boudin’s office secured just three total convictions for “possession with intent to sell” drugs in 2021: two for methamphetamine and one for a case including heroin and cocaine. By comparison, Boudin’s predecessor, George Gascón, oversaw over 90 drug-dealing convictions by the DA’s Office in 2018.

Boudin’s office is still obtaining convictions in fentanyl drug sales cases, but the actual convictions are not for the crime of drug dealing. About 80% of the cases in a type of charge category that included fentanyl dealing—44 in total—involved a defendant ultimately pleading guilty to a crime called “accessory after the fact,” meaning the accused was convicted of helping another person commit a crime. In a handful of cases, people arrested on multiple charges including fentanyl dealing end up being convicted of other serious felonies.

The explanation for the surprising absence of drug-dealing convictions is multi-faceted. The DA’s office has put an emphasis on diversion programs—partly out of a commitment to reducing incarceration for lower-level crimes and partly due to efforts to keep the jail population down during Covid.

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