Lawyers like the East Bay Community Law Center’s Theresa Zhen, left, have supported a bill that would stop California from forcing defendants like Velia Dueñas, right, to pay court fees they can’t afford.
In the News
OAKLAND — The $9 million homelessness prevention program Oakland launched last year has succeeded in keeping nearly 500 families off the streets so far, a city spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Following the lead of San Francisco County’s June 2018 decision and building on more than two years of advocacy on the part of the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) and Debt Free Justice California coalition partners, Alameda County ceased the assessment and collection of fees for probation supervision, investigation reports, participation in the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program, and many more fees that extract wealth from low-income communities of color. In past years, the average adult on probation in Alameda County has faced over $6,000 in fees. The new policy, along with the discharge of existing debt, will go into effect on January 4, 2019.
In introducing the bill, Skinner said she wanted to replicate the success of Keeping Oakland Housed, according to the press release. Founded Oct. 15, Keeping Oakland Housed partners with Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, and the East Bay Community Law Center to provide legal representation and financial assistance to Oakland residents.
The residents took that to mean that the city would not be moving forward with the closure until the meeting, and that there would be negotiation between the city and the residents regarding whether they could stay at the site. They were shocked when crews and police showed up Thursday afternoon to kick them out. “It’s a flat-out betrayal,” said Osha Neumann of the East Bay Community Law Center.
Newly-formed Debt Free Justice California coalition celebrates stunning victory as Board of Supervisors votes to make Alameda the nation’s second county to end wealth extraction through criminal justice fees and bring about “Debt-Free Justice” for communities.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: After 11 Years, Tirien Steinbach to Step Down as East Bay Community Law Center’s Executive Director
Contact: Lemlem Rijio, Director of Development & Communications firstname.lastname@example.org / 510-269-6627 AFTER 11 YEARS, TIRIEN STEINBACH TO STEP DOWN AS EAST BAY COMMUNITY LAW CENTER’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Steinbach says, “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served my community through my time as a staff member at EBCLC. I do not see this as […]
In the view of Frank Martin, deputy director of the East Bay Community Law Center, the legal services offered by Keep Oakland Housed will give pause to property managers looking to evict tenants as a ploy to boost rent.“Generally speaking, 90 percent of landlords have lawyers and 90 percent of tenants do not,” he says. “That makes for an imbalance and leads to people losing their cases even when they have legitimate reasons for why they couldn’t pay their rent. Having lawyers who will negotiate settlements with landlords or who show up in court with tenants levels the playing field.”
The board should vote yes on repeal and discharge because its most vulnerable constituents are being exploited for money they simply do not have. As detailed in EBCLC’s recent report, “Pay or Prey: How the Alameda County Criminal Justice System Extracts Wealth from Marginalized Communities,” the ripple effects of these debts are immense and reinforce systems of cyclical poverty, with families usually paying a significant price for their loved ones criminal justice debts.
Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods, the East Bay Community Law Center, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and other groups told the board that the fees should be eliminated because they create a long-term financial burden for low-income people who already served time for their crimes but then have problems turning their lives around.