Chesa Boudin, the disgraced former district attorney of San Francisco, will helm a new research and advocacy center at UC Berkeley’s prestigious law school to help train the next generation of lawyers on criminal justice, the university announced Wednesday.
Boudin says Berkeley Law's new Criminal Law and Justice Center offers a better pathway toward "lasting progress" for criminal justice reform than politics, saying that he will not run to regain his position in 2024 due to "devastating" public discourse. San Francisco voters recalled Boudin from office last year after the city suffered a sharp uptick in burglary and theft during his tenure that propelled the liberal city into a potential "doom loop."
"In my new role, just as I did as district attorney, I will continue to draw on networks of advocates, activists, judges, and legal practitioners to support reform and advance safety in ways that are rigorous, principled, and responsive to the lived experiences of directly impacted communities," Boudin wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The university-sponsored project in the heart of the Bay Area comes as the region reels from the soft-on-crime policies supported by Boudin. Violence and property crime in Berkeley is at a 10-year high, and the college town’s next-door neighbor, Oakland, is seeing a groundswell of anger from residents who blame city leaders’ leniency for a sharp uptick in violent assaults.
"UC Berkeley law school continues the progressive strategy of gaslighting Californians—as Boudin puts it—dismissing the public’s concerns as ‘fear mongering’ and ‘scare tactics,’" said Steve Smith, a senior fellow at the conservative Pacific Research Institute and author of a new study on crime in California.
Smith noted that the project doesn’t bode well for the future of prosecution in the Golden State.
"The fears of California’s more than one million crime victims are real and justified, and they don’t want new prosecutors being trained to follow Boudin’s reckless path in communities across the state," Smith said.
The university does not list the center’s funders. Neither Boudin nor Berkeley responded to a request for a list of donors for the new center.
Boudin’s political rise was bankrolled by groups funded by liberal megadonor George Soros, although the Democrat-aligned billionaire distanced himself from the prosecutor after the recall.
He is not the only progressive prosecutor to face voter backlash in the Bay Area. Soros-backed Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, who presides over Berkeley, Oakland, and surrounding cities, is following in Boudin’s footsteps after her 2022 election, much to the public’s dismay.
In the past few months, Price has tried to slash a triple-murderer’s sentence, enraged the Asian community with her handling of the death of an Asian toddler slain by gangsters, and angered families of other murder victims who say they aren’t seeing justice. Veteran prosecutors are resigning, accusing Price of using racial favoritism in deciding how to pursue cases and emboldening criminals.