Tomorrow, the Alameda County Probation Department, Public Defenders Office, and the Sheriff’s Office will testify in front of the Public Protection Committee to urge the adoption of legislation that will eliminate criminal justice administration fees in Alameda County. The East Bay Community Law Center, a legal services provider serving low-income residents in Alameda County, along with the Policy Advocacy Clinic of U.C. Berkeley Law School, Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Urban Strategies Council, have been actively advocating for the elimination of these fees.
But in a state ravaged by wildfires, where firefighters’ overtime costs are soaring and backup from Australia had to be called in to help fight the Carr Fire near Redding, advocates for the formerly incarcerated like Vinuta Naik, a staff attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, have a hard time understanding why firefighting agencies are turning away formerly incarcerated people with hands-on experience.
As a law student, Montenegro worked at the East Bay Community Law Center’s Youth Defender Clinic and was a staff editor for the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law.
“I go from a block where there are tents lining the sidewalk, to a block where there are Teslas and Mercedes lining the sidewalk,” said Osha Neumann, a staff attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center. “It’s almost like we’re dividing into two species. And it’s increasingly difficult for people to move from the streets, from the bottom, anywhere up away from there.”
Under SB 179 and SB 310, California will (1) no longer require a physician’s declaration to change a gender marker on California identity documents and California court-ordered gender changes, (2) allow for a nonbinary gender marker option, (3) eliminate the need in most cases to attend a court hearing to obtain a court-ordered gender change, and (4) no longer deny the right to a court-ordered name and gender marker change for individuals who are under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or are in county jail.
Residents and allies of the vehicular community at the Berkeley Marina held a press conference Monday to demand access to basic needs facilities and call for an end to the city’s order to move or risk losing their homes. Several speakers gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center about 12:30 p.m., including City Councilmember Cheryl Davila and Osha Neumann, a supervising attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center, according to Yesica Prado, a Berkeley Marina vehicular resident.
“The situation they’re up against is that Berkeley has essentially made it illegal to live in a vehicle anywhere within the city limits,” said Osha Neumann, with the East Bay Community Law Center.
The East Bay Community Law Center, or EBCLC, announced Monday that the Alameda County Superior Court will use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “extremely low-income” standard to determine eligibility for applicants seeking reduced traffic infraction fines under the court’s Ability to Pay, or ATP, program.
Furthermore, collection agencies are not bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects consumers from various forms of threat and harassment, because court debts are considered “involuntary.” As a result of this loophole, said Miguel Soto, an attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center, “We’ve had clients tell us that the [debt collector] they’re dealing with is threatening them with violence, imprisonment, or, in some occasions, deportation.”
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and representing tenants in Berkeley. It’s amazing the number of people who have had to move away,” said Laura Lane, who was director of the housing practice at the East Bay Community Law Center for 20 years.