A year after losing a recall election, former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Wednesday that he is leading a new criminal justice center at the University of California Berkeley School of Law.
Boudin officially began his work last week as founding executive director of the university’s newly established Criminal Law & Justice Center, which aims to be a national research and education hub for criminal legal reforms.
“I’m thrilled to build, from the ground up, a center that will serve as a research and advocacy hub focused on critical law and policy changes that advance justice in the criminal legal system,” Boudin wrote in a news release from Berkeley Law.
He said he developed four pillars for the center — policy advocacy, research, education and a yearly conference. He said he is looking forward to working with people thinking deeply about policy reform, rather than “sound-bite thinking.”
“As DA, I had a steep learning curve,” Boudin said in an announcement from Berkeley Law. “I saw how politics kept getting in the way of good policy that I cared deeply about implementing to make the system more just and the city more safe.”
Not looking back
Coinciding with the announcement, Boudin reaffirmed that he will not be running for district attorney next year in an opinion piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Nearly a year ago, Boudin lost in a recall election amid public outcry for more accountability in retail robberies and crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Mayor London Breed then appointed Brooke Jenkins to the position and she was elected last November to stay as district attorney.
“As DA, I had a steep learning curve. I saw how politics kept getting in the way of good policy that I cared deeply about implementing to make the system more just and the city more safe.”Chesa Boudin
Boudin, a progressive former public defender, was elected in 2019 during a national push for ending mass incarceration during the Black Lives Matter movement. During his two and a half years as district attorney, Boudin eliminated cash bail, made a unit to address wrongful convictions and lowered sentences for non-violent crimes. He also made a diversion program for parents with misdemeanors or non-violent felonies.
Boudin said he is still pursuing his “lifelong commitment” to making changes in the criminal legal system by filing lawsuits, analyzing data and educating future generations of lawyers. He added that winning elections is not the only way to make lasting change.
“That work is now more important than ever, as we are in the midst of an intense national backlash against all of the progress we’ve made to advance common sense approaches to public safety and justice that are consistent with our values — and our constitution,” Boudin said.