“Everybody’s like, why doesn’t the D.A.’s office just scoop these people up and throw them in jail so I don’t have to look at them anymore,” said Lara Bazelon, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law who is a supporter of Mr. Boudin. “That’s not how the law works. It is not a crime to be homeless.”
Mr. Boudin framed the recall effort as driven by traditional law-and-order conservatives who want to roll back his efforts, such as not asking judges for cash bail, seeking more lenient sentences and sending fewer juveniles to prison.
“This is clearly about criminal justice reform,” he said. “This is a question of whether we’re going to go forward and continue to implement data-driven policies that center crime victims, that invest in communities impacted by crime, and that use empirical evidence to address root causes of crime in our communities — if we’re going to go back to the failed policies of Reagan and Trump.”
While fears about crime have fueled the recall effort, the data tells a more nuanced story: Major crimes were down 23 percent overall last year, according to the San Francisco Police Department, even as burglaries and auto thefts rose.
Part of the problem, Mr. Boudin said, is that the police are arresting fewer people — an issue that he blames in part on the pandemic because many perpetrators, wearing masks to protect them from the virus, are difficult to identify.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Boudin was walking out of an event at a local university when a man came up to him and said, “When are you going to start making arrests?”
“I said to him, I’m not going to start making arrests,” he recounted. “That’s not what the D.A. does. We don’t make arrests.”