San Francisco DA launches new program to help parents facing criminal charges

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is the first city and county in the State to implement a new diversion program for primary caregiver parents of small children, by helping them avoid jail time.

For the city's new District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, it's personal.

But there are critics of the controversial law.

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San Francisco's new DA knows what it's like. Boudin's parents went to prison when he was a baby, for being getaway drivers during an armored car robbery in New York State.

"I saw so many other children in prison over the decades separated from parents due to incarceration," said Boudin.

It's why Boudin announced the creation of a diversion program for parents who are primary caregivers to their kids, helping them reduce the physical and emotional problems that come from a child's separation.

Non-violent offenders are eligible but must go through a program that may include everything from parenting classes to drug treatment.

"If they do that, within six months to two years, they could earn dismissal of criminal charges," Boudin added.

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Jonathan Madison from Glad Tidings Church in San Francisco thinks it's a great idea, he ministers to inmates most weekends at the County Jail.

"I think nothing could be better than getting treatment, time with their kids. That's how we reduce the recidivism rate," said Madison.

But critics say the law could risk public safety.

"Many People will no longer be going to jail, it puts the public at risk for repeat drunk drivers and other serious criminals, just because they have a child," said former Santa Clara County Prosecutor Steven Clark.

Governor Newsom recently approved the new law, all counties in California have the option of adopting it.
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