Boudin was a progressive district attorney who supporters lauded his focus on social justice and criminal justice reform. While in office he pledged to end cash bail, not prosecute quality of life crimes and to put fewer people behind bars.
Critics of Boudin pointed to these priorities and policies as the precise reason why Boudin needed to be recalled, arguing that they were responsible for a spike in crime in the city. San Francisco homicide rates spiked in 2020 and 2021, with hate crimes against Asian Americans shooting up 567%. Petty theft became so rampant that San Francisco became infamous for videos of shoplifters stealing hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise completely unmolested.
“Boudin seems to want to do everything he can to prevent a criminal from going to jail,” Richie Greenberg, spokesperson for the recall campaign, said. “There are lifelong San Franciscans, lifelong Democrats, progressives, liberals, and even those who voted for [Boudin] in 2019 when he ran [who] are not only disappointed in him but who are disgusted by what he turned out to be.”
Boudin’s parents were part of the infamous Weather Underground terrorist group, and spent decades behind bars after being convicted as accomplices in a botched 1981 robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead. Boudin often cited the pain of being separated from his parents as a formative experience for his political worldview, and campaigned on reforming a system that split up families. He also received considerable financial support from well known left-wing billionaire George Soros, who has spent $40 million in the last decade to help elect dozens of similarly progressive district attorneys across the United States.
Previously, Boudin even served as a translator for Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, Boudin’s predecessor as San Francisco District Attorney, received similar backing and has followed similar prosecutorial priorities; a PAC supporting Gascón even donated $100,000 in 2021 to support Boudin against the recall. Gascón faces his own potential recall in November, which is overwhelmingly supported by LA prosecutors, who recently defeated Gascón in court over his refusal to allow prosecutors to follow California’s “three strikes” law. Observers believe Boudin’s defeat may be a bellwether for progressive DAs across the country.
Mayor London Breed will appoint a temporary replacement for Boudin until a special election in November 2022. San Franciscans will then elect a new district attorney to complete Boudin’s term, which runs until the end of 2023.