The new policy reestablishes a weight limit threshold to prohibit drug dealers from being referred to the City’s community justice court, puts an enhancement on the table for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, & will potentially seek pre-trial detention in extreme fentanyl dealing cases
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Today, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced a new policy to hold drug dealers accountable that would prohibit dealers arrested with more than five grams of drugs from being referred to San Francisco’s community justice court (CJC). The new policy will also consider adding charging enhancements for drug dealing within 1,000 feet of a school and the office will potentially seek pre-trial detention of fentanyl dealers in extreme cases. The previous administration’s policy had no weight limit threshold, was not adhering to CJC guidelines, and allowed drug dealers, arrested with as much as 500 grams of fentanyl, and who had multiple open fentanyl cases, to be referred to CJC.
District Attorney Jenkins also announced that she has revoked over 30 open plea offers put forward by the previous administration, including an egregious case involving one defendant who had six open cases – all for dealing fentanyl in the Tenderloin. The defendant was arrested with more than 100 grams of the deadly drug and was in CJC at the time District Attorney Jenkins assumed the office. This defendant was referred to CJC over five times despite failing to complete any of the CJC mandated requirements and violating the terms of a stay away order from the Tenderloin area when he was arrested on each subsequent new case. This particular defendant was offered a single misdemeanor to settle all six cases.
“Since 2020, nearly 1,500 people have died of drug overdose in part because dealers have been allowed to operate with impunity,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “The lethality of fentanyl presents a different challenge, and we must immediately change course, so we can save lives and hold people accountable for the havoc they are wreaking in our communities like the Tenderloin and South of Market. Going forward defendants holding lethal doses of fentanyl will face felony charges.”
According to San Francisco Superior Court data obtained and first reported by The San Francisco Standard, the previous administration did not obtain a single conviction for dealing fentanyl in all of 2021. As a point of comparison, District Attorney George Gascon oversaw at least 90 drug-dealing convictions by the District Attorney’s Office in 2018.
A review of open narcotics sales cases, ordered by District Attorney Jenkins in one of her first actions in office, found that as of July 2022, there are approximately 156 open narcotics sales (or possession for sale cases) in collaborative courts. Notably, 57% (88) of those cases involve the sale of fentanyl. Twenty-six (26) defendants referred to a collaborative court have two open cases; nine (9) have three open cases; four (4) have four open cases; and one (1) has five open cases.
There are 37 cases involving over 50 grams of fentanyl including 20 with over 100 grams. The most egregious cases are for defendants arrested in possession of 243, 249, 291, and 308 grams of fentanyl each. All of the cases above are currently in the CJC. Of the defendants with more than two open cases for drug dealing, all of them were offered misdemeanors.
“No one deserves to live in the conditions that we experience every day in the Tenderloin,” said Greggory, a third generation San Franciscan and longtime Tenderloin community resident. “I am hopeful that District Attorney Jenkins’ new approach will send a clear message that drug dealers will face consequences for the disruption and deaths they are causing.”
San Francisco’s Adult Drug Court was established in 1995 as part of a citywide effort to reduce the impact of drug and alcohol use on the criminal justice system and was primarily intended for drug users rather than drug dealers. District Attorney Jenkins and her office will make an individualized determination for each offender in each case, based on a spectrum of factors, including whether they are a first time or repeat offender, the amount of drugs they are arrested with, the location of the arrest, and other important considerations.
For the open plea offers District Attorney Jenkins revoked, the District Attorney’s office will seek a felony charge that includes jail time as part of the new offer.