Chasing Justice

By Chesa Boudin and Rachel Marshall

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A podcast on criminal justice reform featuring some of the nation's most prominent thought leaders. Hosted by progressive prosecutors San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Rachel Marshall.

Episode Date
Jun 15, 2021
Behavioral Health Justice with Tim Black
DA Boudin and Rachel are joined by Tim Black of the renowned CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets) program in Oregon, an innovative program that provides alternatives to policing by sending trained mental health first responders to handle crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. DA Boudin, Rachel and Tim talk about the criminalization of mental illness throughout the legal system and explore ways the system can better help those struggling with mental health and addiction. Tim shares specific examples from his work with CAHOOTS to help rethink how our legal system should respond to someone in crisis and the group discusses ways to balance public safety concerns with the need to treat those who are mentally ill with dignity and respect.
For more information:
  • To learn more about CAHOOTS, check out the White Bird Clinic's website.
  • The Daily Show interview with Tim Black, "What Does Defunding the Police Look Like?"
  • Piece in The Atlantic on CAHOOTS
  • CNN piece on CAHOOTS
  • Radio interview on KZSC with Tim Black
  • Mental Health America information on the intersection between mental health and criminal justice
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness article, "Criminal Justice Reform Means Reforming the Mental Health System"
  • Prison Policy Initiative statistics on the intersection of incarceration and mental health
  • Slate article, "Prisons Have Become America's New Asylums"
Jun 08, 2021
Racial Justice with Patrisse Cullors
DA Boudin and Rachel are joined this week by Patrisse Cullors, the cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement. They discuss the long-term impact of the Black Lives Matter movement for people of color in the wake of George Floyd's murder and the trial and conviction of Derek Chauvin. The conversation is both broad and deep as it covers police accountability; mental health; and intersectionality. The group also explores the opposition to progressive prosecutors and the push to hold police accountable.
  • Link to purchase Patrisse's book, When They Call You a Terrorist
  • W Magazine profile on Patrisse Cullors
  • Harvard Law Review article by Patrisse, Abolition and Reparations: History of Resistance, Transformative Justice, and Accountability
  • LA Progressive piece by Patrisse on The Future of Black Lives
  • Time Magazine honors Black Lives Matter cofounders
  • Information from Patrisse's website on Measure R
  • Freeform's Good Trouble series
  •  New York Times coverage of DA Boudin's historic prosecution of the first on-duty police officer in a homicide case in San Francisco history
  • San Francisco Examiner article on DA Boudin's refling of charges against Alameda County Sheriff's deputies
  • Article on DA Boudin's cosponsorship of SB 299 to support victims of police violence
  • Press release on DA Boudin's policy to compensate victims of police violence like any other crime victims
Jun 01, 2021
Juvenile Justice with Zach Norris

DA Boudin and Rachel are joined by Zach Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the author of Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons and Punishment, to talk about all of the ways the legal system impacts kids.  They discuss the criminalization of kids of color; the impacts of juvenile incarceration; and the differences between the juvenile and adult systems—as well as how it all affects kids and their families.  Zach also discusses the ways in which prosecutors can effect change for kids in the system.

For more information:

  • Link to purchase Zach Norris’s book, Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment
  • Website for Ella Baker Center
  • KQED interview with Zach on “Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities”
  • Forbes article on Zach’s book
  • San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, “LA and SF Have It Right: No Children Should be Prosecuted as Adults”
  • Research from Harvard about juvenile justice and the adolescent brain
  • Justice Policy Report showing recidivism rates are higher for kids prosecuted as adults in the legal system
  • CJCJ 2019 report on the violence and neglect in California’s Division of Juvenile Justice
  • San Francisco Chronicle article on Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to close the Division of Juvenile Justice
  • Op-ed in the Sacramento Bee on the closure of DJJ and how it should have happened long before COVID
May 25, 2021
Immigration Justice with Raha Jorjani

The first thematic episode of Season 2 focuses on immigrants in the criminal legal system. Raha Jorjani, Director of Immigration Defense at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office and an expert on “crimmigration”—the intersection of criminal and immigration law—joins DA Boudin and Rachel for this in-depth discussion. The conversation explores all the ways in which the criminal legal system fails and can improve its treatment of immigrants—whether as crime victims or as the accused in criminal cases. Raha also discusses the ways in which policy decisions have impacted immigrants throughout the legal system and how prosecutors can better address the needs of non-citizens.

  • Link to Facebook Live recording of two panels from the San Francisco District Attorney’s recent Summit, Prevention & Protection: Keeping Our AAPI Community Safe”
  • KTVU story on Raha’s client, Walter, and his fight for justice
  • Leading Edge Foundation profile on Raha
  • Animated short film Raha wrote for Rogue Mark Studios regarding the need for prosecutorial accountability
  • Washington Post piece, “Treating Immigrants Like Criminals Has a Long History in the United States”
  • Raha’s Washington Post 2015 Op-Ed, “Could Black People in the U.S. Qualify as Refugees?”
  • Safety and Justice Challenge blog, “Addressing the Unique Issues Faced by Immigrants in the Justice System
  • Intercept piece profiling Raha's client, Walter


May 18, 2021
Redemptive Justice with Bryan Stevenson
In the premiere of Season 2, DA Boudin and Rachel explore the state of criminal justice one year after the murder of George Floyd with special guest Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and the author of "Just Mercy."  It's a powerful conversation about the importance of truth-telling and accountability to achieve redemption and healing. Mr. Stevenson also discusses the death penalty, police accountability, and the future of reforms--and the role of prosecutors to effecting change.
Further readings and information:
  • Link to purchase Just Mercy
  • Link to Just Mercy film
  • Website for the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum
  • Equal Justice Initiative website
  • Link to EJI report, Reconstruction in America
  • Washington Post Magazine March 2021 interview, "The author of 'Just Mercy' says we've made talking about race political--and that has to change"
  • New Yorker interview with Mr. Stevenson in June of 2020 on the protests resulting from George Floyd's murder
  • Interview on CNN in January of 2021 reacting to federal executions under Trump administration
  • HBO documentary on Bryan Stevenson and EJI
  • Ted Talk from 2016, "The Urgent Need for Reconciliation"
  • Ted Talk from 2012, "We Need to Talk About an Injustice"
  • New York Magazine 2019 interview, "Bryan Stevenson on His 'Not Entirely Rational' Quest for Justice"
  • Interview with Oprah Winfrey about the urgent need to end the death penalty
May 11, 2021
Teaser for Chasing Justice Season 2

This sneak preview of Chasing Justice Season 2 teases the new, exciting episodes on criminal justice reform with some of the nation’s most prominent thought leaders. Hosted by progressive prosecutors San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Rachel Marshall.

May 04, 2021
Season 1 Finale: Overcoming Obstacles to Our Movement with DA Rachael Rollins

In the Season 1 Finale of Chasing Justice, DA Boudin and Rachel get personal with Suffolk County (Boston) DA Rachael Rollins.  DA Rollins opens up about obstacles she has overcome as a person and as a progressive prosecutor.  Both DAs also discuss the role of familial incarceration in their lives and in their new roles.  The DAs and Rachel also talk about meeting with incarcerated people as prosecutors; the many challenges progressive DAs face in getting elected; and the role of money in elections.  They also explore how to overcome institutional resistance--including from their own offices-- as well as from the courts and police institutions.  It’s a candid, thoughtful, and, at times, even funny conversation about how those committed to criminal justice reform can overcome the many obstacles to success.  

Chasing Justice is taking a seasonal break but we will be back soon with new episodes!  We encourage you to stay in touch with us during the break.  You can email us at You can also find us on Instagram or facebook at chasingjusticepodcast or on twitter at @ChasingPodcast.  During the seasonal break, you can also follow DA Boudin on his personal twitter/instagram at @chesaboudin and Rachel at @RachelRMarshall.

Aug 11, 2020
The Criminalization of Poverty: Bail with Alec Karakatsanis

Every day, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the United States who are in jail simply because they are too poor to buy their freedom.  In this episode, DA Boudin and Rachel discuss one of the most important issues in the criminal justice reform movement: cash bail.  For this discussion, they are joined by Alec Karakatsanis, the founder of Civil Rights Corps and the author of the book Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System.  Alec, one of the leading bail reform lawyers in the country who successfully sued Harris County, Texas over its bail system, explains the history and practice of bail in the United States, as well as its impact on the legal system overall.  Alec, DA Boudin and Rachel also explore the dangers of risk assessment tools as alternatives to bail, as well as pending bail reform litigation.  DA Boudin also describes his groundbreaking policy to stop seeking cash bail in all San Francisco cases. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in criminal justice reform.

Aug 04, 2020
Playing Ball with People’s Lives: The Three Strikes Law with Susan Champion

California’s Three Strikes Law has sent thousands of people to prison for life sentences, frequently for crimes in which no one was injured.  In this episode, DA Boudin and Rachel are joined by Susan Champion of Stanford’s Three Strikes Project to break down the Three Strikes Law. They explore the history of this harmful law in California (as well as similar laws in other states); the effects of the law on California’s prison population; recent reforms Three Strikes has undergone; and the damage it continues to inflict.  Susan, Rachel, and DA Boudin share stories of people they’ve encountered whose lives have been impacted by this law and explore what changes can be made to promote justice.  They also discuss DA Boudin’s policy in regards to strikes and status enhancements.

Jul 28, 2020
“For the People”: Finding the Humanity in Our Criminal Legal System with Sajid Khan and Avi Singh

In this crossover episode with the cohosts of Aider and Abettor podcast, Bay Area public defenders Avi Singh and Sajid Khan join DA Boudin and Rachel to examine what it means when a prosecutor represents “the people.”  The group asks who are the people represented by the system at each stage and is the system really serving them?  How can the system better recognize the humanity of defendants and victims?  They also explore whether lawyers working in the system should find more collaboration in an adversarial system.  The discussion walks through various stages of the criminal legal system (from charging, bail, plea bargains, trials, through sentencing) and reimagines all the ways in which the system should honor the humanity of the people touched by it but too often denies it.  Finally, Avi leads DA Boudin, Rachel and Sajid in a “lightning round” of questions submitted by Aider and Abettor fans.

Jul 21, 2020
Who’s Policing the Prosecutors? Prosecutorial Accountability with Emily Bazelon

In the midst of a national conversation about holding police accountable, DA Boudin and Rachel are joined by Emily Bazelon, New York Times Magazine writer and Author of the book Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration to discuss prosecutorial accountability.  They discuss the problem of the lack of transparency over the decisions prosecutors make despite their enormous influence.  Emily shares some stories from her book Charged about prosecutorial abuse and discusses the broad independence prosecutors have to make decisions with little oversight.  DA Boudin, Emily and Rachel also explore the lack of accountability for prosecutors in providing discovery, charging, and especially in plea bargaining, and think about the ways in which progressive prosecutors can enact changes to promote fairness.  Finally, they discuss the ways the public can hold progressive prosecutors accountable, as well as the relationship between national politics and the progressive prosecution movement.

Jul 14, 2020
An Epidemic Within the Pandemic: The Drug Crisis with Dr. Leana Wen

In this episode, we hear from nationally renowned physician and COVID-19 expert Dr. Leana Wen on the drug and opioid crisis in our nation.  Dr. Wen explains how to approach the drug and addiction epidemic from a public health perspective, and she explores with DA Boudin and Rachel the roots of the United States’ drug crisis.  Dr. Wen, DA Boudin, and Rachel also discuss the racial impact of the war on drugs, the role of incarceration in perpetuating the cycle of addiction, and how to balance public safety concerns about drug use with public health concerns. They also explore specific policy responses. Finally, they explore the parallels between our failure to treat drug addiction properly with our nation’s failure to respond adequately to the COVID crisis.

Jul 07, 2020
The Personal is Political: One on One with DA Boudin and Rachel

In this deeply personal episode, DA Boudin and Rachel share their own journeys towards criminal justice reform.  DA Boudin describes the story of his parents’ participation in a crime that led to their incarceration for his entire childhood and explains how it tied into his career as a public defender and then to his election as the District Attorney of San Francisco.  Rachel also shares her path towards and her motivations for working in criminal justice reform, first as a public defender and now for DA Boudin.  The two also explore what the concept of progressive prosecutors means to each of them and their hopes for Chasing Justice. 

Jun 30, 2020
Prosecutorial Discretion with SA Kim Foxx

In this episode, DA Boudin and Rachel explore the role of prosecutorial discretion in the criminal justice system with one of the most well known progressive prosecutors in the country: Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.  They discuss the power of the prosecutor to determine when to use their discretion to choose not to file charges, as well as when to decide to file charges.  Drawing on specific examples, SA Foxx speaks candidly about her thinking around how to approach the immense power of prosecutors.  She also explains why she decided to be the first prosecutor in the country to make felony case data available to the public and how that decision links to her role as a progressive prosecutor.  SA Foxx talks about specific decisions she has made in exercising her discretion in high-profile cases and explains her thinking about how to prioritize limited resources to advance public safety.  SA Foxx and DA Boudin also discuss their responses to the COVID-19 crisis and other ways in which prosecutorial discretion plays out in their work.

Jun 23, 2020
BONUS: The Modern Civil Rights Movement with Angela Davis

In this special BONUS episode, DA Boudin, Rachel, and special guest, the iconic Professor Angela Davis, build on the conversation from last episode and focus on the movement that the death of George Floyd has spawned. Professor Davis explains the significance of this moment in the context of the broader Civil Rights Movement.  Professor Davis also discusses the role of intersectionality in past and present movements for justice. The group also explores the commonalities between abolition and the current movement to defund police, as well as the limitations but also the possibilities of reforms to the justice system.

Jun 19, 2020
Race, Policing, and Protest with James Forman Jr.

In the midst of national protests over the murder of George Floyd and many other recent examples of Black people killed by police, DA Boudin and Rachel discuss race, policing, and protest with Pulitzer-Prize winning Professor James Forman, Jr., the author of the book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.  The group discusses the history of racist policing, reactions to recent incidents of police violence, the movement to defund police, other ideas for reforms, and the future of this movement.

Jun 16, 2020
Teaser for Chasing Justice

This sneak preview of Chasing Justice introduces the new, exciting podcast on criminal justice reform with some of the nation’s most prominent thought leaders. Hosted by progressive prosecutors San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Rachel Marshall.

Jun 09, 2020