Newsom Sends Prosecutorial Backup to Oakland's Soft-on-Crime DA

Soros-backed Pamela Price has pushed lenient sentencing policies

Gavin Newsom (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
February 8, 2024

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) will dispatch state prosecutors to go after criminals in Oakland and the surrounding area, as local momentum builds to oust the county's George Soros-backed prosecutor for her lenient policies.

"An arrest isn't enough," Newsom said in a Thursday statement announcing the deployment. "Justice demands that suspects are appropriately prosecuted."

Oakland-area district attorney Pamela Price, who is trying to fend off a voter-backed recall after just a year in office, said she welcomed the support "in this fight against organized retail crime and the scourge of Fentanyl in our community."

The governor's move comes as Oakland deals with a skyrocketing crime crisis. On Tuesday, Newsom sent 120 state troopers to Oakland and the surrounding county. The crime surge is driving the recall effort against Price—who ran on an anti-incarceration platform and a pledge to "evaluate unfair prosecutions and excessive sentencing practices." As DA, she gave a teen linked to three murders just seven years in prison and made the gang members who murdered a toddler eligible for parole. A poll from last fall showed that a majority of Oakland residents would vote to replace her as DA and that just 28 percent have a favorable view of her—while 92 percent listed reducing crime as a top priority.

According to the governor's office, the state attorneys' job will be "increasing the prosecutions" of criminals who have committed violence, property crimes, and "serious" drug-related felonies. Last year, Oakland saw its violent crime rate increase by 21 percent, while robberies rose 38 percent and vehicle theft spiked 44 percent.

Meanwhile, a local voter coalition called Save Alameda for Everyone is gathering signatures to recall Price. Its lead organizers are a mother whose son was shot and killed in Oakland in 2010 and the former president of the local Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. The group, which needs to collect more than 73,000 signatures by mid-March to qualify the recall for the November ballot, says Price "is failing us in her responsibility to enforce the law, prosecute criminals and keep violent offenders off our streets."

Price took $130,000 from Soros for her initial, failed 2018 bid for district attorney. She enjoys financial backing from California millionaires' wives who have helped bankroll the soft-on-crime makeover of the state's justice system.