SF Public Defender Mano Raju’s Statement Denouncing DA Jenkins’ Attempts to Bring Back Regressive War on Drugs
SAN FRANCISCO – District Attorney Brooke Jenkins recently filed charges in over a dozen cases where the sole charge is possession of drug paraphernalia, such as having a pipe. Mano Raju, the elected Public Defender of San Francisco, issues the following statement in response:
“I denounce these charging decisions by District Attorney Jenkins. San Francisco must not regress to the inhumane, cruel, and costly war on drugs. Let’s remember that the war on drugs, which began under Richard Nixon in the 1970s, did nothing to reduce drug use or sales. Nor was that its intended purpose. Rather, the drug war was designed as an attack on the poor and people of color that fueled criminalization and mass incarceration of vulnerable communities for decades. At that, it was enormously successful and harmful.
By charging community members for allegedly possessing drug paraphernalia, the District Attorney will exacerbate the existing humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing trial backlogs. Hundreds of people are already languishing in San Francisco’s jails awaiting their day in court past their constitutionally mandated speedy trial due dates. The filing of drug cases will add to this growing backlog.
We cannot arrest, prosecute, and cage our way out of a public health crisis. Every dollar spent on this misguided strategy is a dollar lost. We must instead invest in public health solutions that have proven to be effective, including housing, jobs, healthcare, and education – all of which have been drastically underfunded for decades. Community members also can be connected to services without being subjected to a criminal record that will make it difficult for them to get a job or housing in the future. This is not who we are. In San Francisco, we are a compassionate community, and one that values evidence-based, effective responses to the problems our city faces. We must do better than a return to the destructive and devastating war on drugs.”