SF DA files 800+ drug cases 1st year in office but blames judges for allowing dealers to go free

Luz Pena Image
Thursday, July 13, 2023
SF DA blames judges for allowing drug dealers back onto streets
A year after taking office, San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins talks about what's inhibiting her office from putting more drug dealers behind bars.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been a year since San Francisco's District Attorney Brooke Jenkins took office. Wednesday, ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena sat down with Jenkins to speak about the last year and what she says is inhibiting her office from putting more drug dealers behind bars.

Luz Pena: "What do you think is stopping you from prosecuting every single drug dealer in San Francisco?"

Brook Jenkins: "The arrests must continue. There are people still clearly out there on our streets selling drugs. We must continue to make sure that those individuals face charges but we've got judges who are allowing these people to be released back into the streets."

Jenkins office said they filed 819 felony narcotic cases in the last year which resulted in 38 convictions. That's 12 more than her predecessor for the same time period.

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Pena: "That doesn't sound like a lot. What's your plan?"

Jenkins: "I think it is a lot. When you break it down, it signals that the police have ramped up their efforts with respect to arresting drug dealers. Prior to that what we were seeing was drug dealers not being held accountable and really a defeated mindset among our police staff."

Pena: "Do you think you are doing your job and maybe judges are not. Who is failing San Francisco?"

Jenkins: "We have filed over 100 motions to detain in drug dealing cases, but only had somewhere under 20 of those be granted. Judges are refusing to make sure that these individuals stay in custody and that has to change."

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It has been one month since Gov. Newsom's decision to send in CHP and the National Guard to help crackdown on San Francisco's open-air drug markets.

In 2022 before Jenkins took office, about 50 people died in San Francisco every month from a drug overdose. After she took office in July of 2022, that increased to almost 60 people a month. The first five months of this year, it's looking even worse. Almost 70 people are dying every month from an overdose.

Pena: "Are you doing enough?"

Jenkins: "That is why the work must continue, but what I won't do is accept that all of that falls on me. We have public health that needs to do more outreach to make sure that we are getting people into treatment. I'm trying to make sure again that I don't just focus on the dealers. That we do something to intervene with users because that's what we have to do as a city."

We spoke to Tanya Tilghman with Mothers Against Drug Addiction and Deaths. Her 23-year-old son was homeless and using drugs in San Francisco before getting arrested.

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"Instead of prosecuting him, she got him into treatment. At the end of the day, I have to be very thankful," said Tilghman.

Jenkins was handpicked by San Francisco's Mayor London Breed after former DA Chesa Boudin was recalled. Breed says she's satisfied with Jenkin's work so far.

"Just recently, one of the first prosecutions for drug dealing in San Francisco in a very long time. She did that and look, fentanyl is different than any other drug that we have ever experienced with the number of overdose deaths so rightfully so it needs to be handled differently. I think she has been doing a great job," said Mayor Breed.

We asked Jenkins if she thinks she's done a better Job than Boudin.

"I believe I've done the job of a true prosecutor. Which is what we are supposed to do. So in that regard - yes," said Jenkins.

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