East Bay Community Law Center is thrilled to announce that after years of drafting amendments, prepping client testimony, building local power, convening statewide partners, and liaising directly with lawmakers, our Families Over Fees Act legislation has been signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. AB 1869 eliminates 23 adult criminal fees, cancels $16 billion in existing debt, and divests our state’s precious resources from an inherently violent criminal legal system. As our communities grapple with a trifecta of crises – COVID-19, a global recession, and unfettered state violence against African-Americans – this legislation brings us a crucial step closer to restoring true economic security to all Californians and closing the racial wealth gap.
We joined this movement because we saw firsthand the way fines and fees have derailed our clients’ housing, careers, education, health, and wellness. Working within a legal system that promises justice through “incremental change” while draining wealth from low-income Black and Brown families, we insisted upon transformational reform – and that’s what we got. Our work is far from over, but today, we celebrate this victory as a testament to what can be achieved when we commit to following the lead of impacted people in driving ambitious policy change.
Today, we express immense gratitude to bill author State Senator Holly J. Mitchell, our allies in the Assembly, and our fearless partners in the Debt Free California coalition. To the courageous impacted people who rallied us to this cause with your vision – California is now forever in your debt.
Read the coalition’s press release here.