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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: East Bay Community Law Center attorneys, law students, and community partners advance legislation to end criminal justice fees in Alameda County
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.
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.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Superior Court of Alameda County has revised its criteria for low-income applicants seeking a fine reduction for traffic infractions, making fine reduction more accessible to low-income residents.
Monday, June 25, 2018: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: The Superior Court of Alameda County has revised its criteria for low-income applicants seeking a fine reduction for traffic infractions, making the Court’s fine reduction program more accessible to low-income residents.
The clinic is run by the Center’s Clean Slate Practice, which focuses on “the decriminalization of poverty,” according to Brandon Greene, one of its lead attorneys. Some of Greene’s colleagues do post-conviction work, helping to seal arrest records, reduce probation, and help people who’ve been denied employment because of criminal backgrounds. But Greene’s clients are facing a particular set of issues: court-ordered debt related to things like traffic violations and parking tickets.
“A lot of (prison) programs actually train people how to do these jobs, how to have a career in this, without telling them they’ll be banned from getting the license,” said Jael Myrick, a Richmond city councilman and program coordinator of the Clean Slate Program at the East Bay Community Law Center, which is sponsoring the bills. “That’s the issue we’re trying to fix.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Alameda County Superior Court Recalls More Than 83,000 DMV Driver License Holds, Paving the Way to Economic Security and Opportunity for Residents
November 28, 2017: Alameda County Superior Court has recalled over 83,000 DMV Failure to Pay (FTP) driver license holds to comply with newly enacted legislation Assembly Bill 103.
Alameda County Superior Court Reverses License Suspensions for Nearly 54,000 Drivers Who Couldn’t Afford to Pay Traffic Fines
Phan worked with staff attorney Theresa Zhen for months before he was finally able to get his license back, just before the passage of AB 103. “None of these things happen in a vacuum,” Zhen said. “It takes a movement of lawyers, community groups, and people who are brave enough to tell their story.”