SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins is two months into the job and during that time has enforced stricter penalties for drug users, drug dealers and juveniles in certain heinous cases. But will the new policies clean up the streets?
The ABC7 News I-Team sat down with DA Jenkins to discuss some of the main issues plaguing the city and what she's done so far to address them.
Stephanie: "You promised San Franciscans you'd hold criminals accountable. What are you doing now to make that happen?"
Brooke: "So, it comes back to creating guidelines and policies within our office about how we're going to hold these offenders accountable."
New policies -- new penalties
A week ago, Jenkins introduced a policy that would bundle misdemeanor drug possession charges for individuals with at least five misdemeanor citations for public drug use.
"So the police have begun citing individuals who are engaged in public and open drug use. We can't become a city that just allows people to use drugs openly in public," Jenkins said. "So they will cite people that they see engaged in that activity."
The DA's office says they will discharge the first four of those citations, but keep track of who these individuals are that have received those citations upon them receiving a fifth. Then prosecutors will charge the full bundle of all five and forward that to the Community Justice Center, where the individuals(s) will be required to undergo drug treatment services.
Last month, Jenkins' enforced a stricter penalty for drug dealers that requires individuals arrested with more than five grams of an illegal drug face felony charges rather than be sent to rehabilitative court.
Stephanie: "How many felony drug charges has your office filed to date?"
Brooke: "My understanding as of this morning we filed 148 cases with respect to drug dealing since I took over."
Data published to the DA's office public data dashboard shows a slight increase in drug cases prosecuted under Jenkins, but the charging rate for narcotics is on par with her predecessor, Chesa Boudin.
Stephanie: "Do you expect that to change?"
Brooke: "I expect to see perhaps similar rates as far as the charging, but what you're going to see is a difference in the way that these cases are handled and the way that they're resolved... We can't be giving low level misdemeanors to people who are selling one of the most lethal drugs, if not the most lethal drug this market has ever seen."
This week, Jenkins announced the option for prosecutors to charge 16 and 17 year olds as adults in certain 'heinous cases'. There are only five crime types that will be eligible for this consideration which include: murder, attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, forcible sexual assaults, and aggravated mayhem.
Brooke: "If one of those cases arises with a 16 or 17 year old that we believe is egregious and we feel meets the requirement within the office, then the juvenile review team will meet. They will take feedback and input from the minors' defense lawyer, the minor's family members, the victim, the victim's family, etc. The juvenile review team will then make a recommendation to me as to whether or not they believe we should seek to have the minor transferred to adult court."
Open drug markets
Stephanie: "The people who live in the Tenderloin say the open drug markets are getting out of control. When do you think these policies you're implementing now will actually reflect change on the streets?"
Brooke: "So we're very hopeful that that will be very soon. We're also working with the San Francisco Police Department to make sure that we are assisting them in any operations that they that they're doing down in the Tenderloin. We're encouraging them, of course, to make more arrests when they go out and make an arrest. We will do our part to ensure that there is accountability."
Stephanie: "Define soon."
Brooke: "In the next few months, really."
Jenkins added she hopes these enhanced penalties will send a message to dealers.
Brooke: "What I'm hoping is for those dealers who've been getting released right away, who have been getting no consequence, instead see there are consequences. I hope they start spreading the word to all the other fellow dealers saying this is not where you should come sell drugs anymore because there is a new tone here."
The November general election is less than two months away. A poll commissioned by Jenkins' office shows her leading with 49% of the vote. A 23-point lead over her opponent John Hamasaki.
Stephanie: "Do you think you'll win?"
Brooke: "I'm of course optimistic that I will win but that doesn't mean I slow down at all. This city has a lot of work that needs to be done."
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