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.
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.
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.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Alameda County Will Vote to End Assessment of and Discharge $26 Million in Adult Fees
Newly-formed Debt Free Justice California coalition calls on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to put an end to this form of county-sanctioned wealth extraction and bring about “Debt-Free Justice” for communities.
Urban Habitat and the East Bay Community Law Center have released a new report, Rooted in Home: Community-Based Alternatives to the Bay Area Housing Crisis, which highlights examples of responses and long-term solutions to the housing crisis—rooted in permanent affordability and democratic community control.
Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Brandon Greene and Noe Gudiño discuss the impacts of administrative criminal justice fees and fines on formerly incarcerated individuals as they try to move on with their lives after serving time.
For Immediate Release: Governor Brown signs landmark legislation to remove barriers to licensing and decrease recidivism
This weekend, Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown signed AB 2138 to remove barriers for occupational licensing for close to 8 million Californians living with criminal records. AB 2138 was written by attorneys at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), with the support of a coalition of organizations.