As San Francisco drowns in filth, DA-elect Chesa Boudin says public urination 'will not be prosecuted'

The lawyer, who eyes criminal justice reform, is set to abide by his campaign promise even though SF continues to struggle with its problem with open filth.

                            As San Francisco drowns in filth, DA-elect Chesa Boudin says public urination 'will not be prosecuted'
(Getty Images)

Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s District Attorney (DC)-elect, has announced that he is not going to prosecute acts like public urination.

The decision is in tune with the 39-year-old lawyer-writer-lecturer’s pledge during campaigning that cases involving quality-of-life crimes will not be prosecuted.

Urine and feces have remained a major problem for San Francisco. The city spent over $40 per resident to clean up its streets in 2016-17 fiscal and, in 2019 fiscal, the total cost of cleaning up the city’s streets stained with human waste and drug items could go up to $60 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 2016-17, the total cost of the cleanliness was around $35 million while in 2017-18 it was almost $54 million. San Francisco is reportedly spending far more than many other bigger cities to get rid of its open filth. It is also a city where homelessness, along with substance abuse, is a major problem.

'Quality-of-life crimes'

Boudin, who declared his victory last Saturday, November 9, after winning a plurality of votes, had said during his campaign: “We will not prosecute cases involving quality-of-life crimes. Crimes such as public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, blocking a sidewalk, etc., should not and will not be prosecuted.” He said this in response to a questionnaire from the American Civil Liberties Union, reported the Chronicle. “Many of these crimes are still being prosecuted, we have a long way to go to decriminalize poverty and homelessness,” he added. 

Boudin, a former deputy public defender, declared victory after four days of counting of the ballot and said he was ahead of Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus. The latest results gave Boudin a lead by over 8,400 votes and Loftus conceded defeat, NBC News reported.

Boudin is the son of anti-war radicals who were imprisoned for murder when he was just over a year old. He grew up with his incarcerated parents and that motivated him to take up law eyeing criminal justice reform. He vowed to tackle racial bias in the criminal justice system, overhaul the bail system, safeguard immigrants from getting deported, etc. 

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders was elated over his partyman’s win and said on Twitter the time has come to fundamentally fix the “racist and broken criminal justice system” by putting an end to mass incarceration, failed war on drugs and criminalization of poverty.

But while Sanders congratulated Boudin on his “historic victory”, San Francisco’s hygiene woes continue to persist with no relief in sight.

Is Boudin, whose office will begin in January, the latest populist in the league?