SAN FRANCISCO—Former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon decided to give up his job in mid-October and try for the equivalent position in Los Angeles on March 3, the next local election day. It’s likely that Gascon’s move had little to do with the fact that he and three other Bay Area DAs were named as defendants in the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) lawsuit to overturn California’s anti-prostitution laws, but who knows? Too bad that suit wasn’t filed today, though, rather than four years ago, because the incoming district attortney, Chesa Boudin, might very well have offered to settle the case on terms favorable to the plaintiffs.
Boudin, who won the November 5 election by almost 9,000 votes over Suzy Loftus, who was appointed to the position last month by SF Mayor London Breed after Gascon resigned, ran on a platform of declining to prosecute “quality of life” crimes: illegal acts generally committed by people because of their social position of being homeless, drug-addicted … or simply trying to put a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs by offering sexual services for a price.
“We will not prosecute cases involving quality-of-life crimes,” he wrote in response to an American Civil Liberties Union pre-election questionnaire. “Crimes such as public camping, offering or soliciting sex, public urination, blocking a sidewalk, etc., should not and will not be prosecuted. Many of these crimes are still being prosecuted; we have a long way to go to decriminalize poverty and homelessness.” [Emphasis added]