DATE: March 2, 2021

CONTACT: SF Public Defender’s Office,; (628)249-7946

Statement from Public Defender Mano Raju Opposing the Call for More Prosecutors to Address the Fentanyl Health Crisis

“At a time when our communities are fighting for their very survival in the midst of the worst economic and public health crisis of this century, the proposal from Supervisor Haney and District Attorney Boudin for San Francisco to spend $2.3 million for more prosecutors to staff a fentanyl task force will do little, if anything, to address the needs of the community, but in fact will exacerbate the current public health crisis.

More policing and surveillance of our community is not a solution to the opioid crisis in our country, and more drug prosecutions do not result in a reduction in drug supply and demand, an increase in drug prices, nor prevention of drug use. The proposal to fund more prosecutions is an affront to the millions of families who have been torn apart by the ongoing war on drugs responsible for producing the largest carceral state in the world.

As public defenders, we represent people who routinely wait weeks or months to gain access to detox beds, substance abuse clinics, and mental health treatment programs in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. We need to shrink the market for drugs – through treatment, overdose prevention, housing, and economic relief.  Public health and safety cannot come from arresting, incarcerating, and caging our community members.

At a time when the movement has powerfully and persuasively called for reallocating resources away from law enforcement and into communities in need, we firmly stand against this proposal to expand the carceral state. Based on SFPD’s historic and ongoing enforcement techniques, street level drug sales will continue to represent the overwhelming majority of individuals arrested for drug sales and the Black and Brown working poor of this City will continue to be the focal point of these prosecutions. 

We do not need another task force linked with a proposal for expanding prosecutions to address our most urgent public health and safety needs. We need housing, food, treatment, and healthcare for all people, to build a sustainable and better future for our communities. We call on the Board of Supervisors to reject this proposal and to join the Mayor in diverting City funds to pay for harm reduction, safe injection sites, and direct aid that is not tied to an expansion of the carceral state.”  



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