BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The internationally renowned Berkeley Law School has a new hire: a man who made national headlines last year.
"I want to do the deep thinking and rigorous analysis to help elevate the conversation in the public square," said Chesa Boudin.
Boudin, the former San Francisco District Attorney, who was recalled last year, is now the executive director of the new Criminal Law and Justice Center at UC Berkeley. The university says the center will be a research and advocacy hub to boost Berkeley Law's work around criminal justice.
"I may have a hypothesis about what evidence or data may show, but we have to do the work to see if it bears out. And if it doesn't, we need to make adjustments in the policies we are implementing because our safety is paramount," Boudin said.
Perceptions about safety were at the forefront of the Boudin recall effort. Boudin was elected district attorney in 2019 on a campaign of policing and public safety reforms. He was recalled in 2022, just two-and-a-half years into his four-year term.
His critics slammed him for being soft on crime, saying his progressive reforms were too lenient, making San Francisco less safe.
That sometimes harsh criticism won't deter him from what's ahead.
"We have got to continue to do work that is informed by science, and by evidence. We have got to be principled, even in the face of often public discourse that is hostile, that is disrespectful. And, that is trying move us backwards to failed policies.," he said.
Boudin believes support for progressive policies continues to grow. He adds, never say never, but for now, he's not interested reelection.
"One of the reasons I decided not to run for re-election was because I was frustrated with the extent to which public policy is devoid of often facts, evidence, even short term memory. It seems like we are chasing our tail in public office, all too often," he said.
Boudin says his new path is still one that allows him to stay committed to criminal justice reform by coming up with data-driven solutions to public safety challenges.
"We can debate which policies are better, and which feel better to us. But we have got to do the work. And that's why I'm so excited about here at Berkeley Law, to be able to dig in and actually look at big picture data, over time, between counties, across states, and analyze 'Are some counties doing better than others?'" says Boudin. "And if so, how do we spread the love and make sure that everybody can follow their lead."
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