SFDA Jenkins to dismiss drug paraphernalia cases, saying they shouldn’t have been filed

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said Tuesday she would dismiss charges against at least 17 people recently charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, saying in a statement that the cases were brought “non-compliant our office policy” on the prosecution of such crimes.

His announcement follows a scathing rebuke from public defender Mano Raju, who in a press release accused Jenkins of risking a regression in the “inhumane, cruel and costly war on drugs”.

However, Jenkins’ office said the charges were errors and the cases were filed just before he took office on July 8, under his predecessor Chesa Boudin, and shortly after he was sworn in. All involved either people accused of possessing drug paraphernalia, such as pipes.

A senior prosecutor who should have reviewed cases and ensured charges were not filed was on extended leave, the office said, so the charges were cleared.

“I have made no policy changes with respect to charging for simple possession of drugs and paraphernalia,” Jenkins said in a statement. “My office will immediately withdraw these charges as they were made in violation of our office policy.”

Jenkins said she’s focused instead on holding “serious drug dealers, especially those who sell fentanyl, accountable, not targeting and incarcerating those with addictions.” We will take appropriate steps internally to ensure that our staff comply with our policy.

Bringing criminal charges against people accused of possessing small amounts of drugs or drug paraphernalia is widely seen as a flawed approach that incarcerates people in the throes of a health crisis that offers few options for their recovery. .

A review of the Chronicle of San Francisco Superior Court records showed 10 standalone possession cases filed Tuesday and seven more filed last week. Each of these has been filed under Jenkins. A possession case reviewed by The Chronicle was filed July 5, three days before Boudin left office.

The case withdrawals come as Jenkins has repeatedly stated his intention to crack down on drug crimes, pledging to review and potentially revoke dozens of plea offers extended to defendants in drug trafficking cases. under Boudin.

Jenkins, who helped lead Boudin’s successful recall, decried Boudin’s policies as being too lenient. Boudin supporters say Jenkins’ approach resembles tactics that have led to mass incarceration and excessive punishment of the poor, people of color and drug addicts.

Supporters of Jenkins and Boudin clashed on increasingly hostile terms. Last week, Jenkins fired 15 staffers, some of whom had joined the prosecutor’s office to work under Boudin.

Megan Cassidy and Dominic Fracassa are the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: megan.cassidy@sfchronicle.com dfracassa@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @meganrcassidy @dominicfracassa

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