SF seeks to eliminate criminal fees keeping people ‘buried in debt’

San Francisco may soon eliminate the fees it imposes on people exiting the criminal justice system under new legislation from Board of Supervisors President London Breed.

Breed is slated to announce the proposal Tuesday to do away with 10 fees that San Francisco charges including for booking, alcohol testing and electronic monitoring. The fees can amount to thousands of dollars per person and trap disadvantaged people in debt.

“Our reentry population needs a fighting chance to turn their lives around and to become thriving members of our communities,” Breed said. “Eliminating our criminal justice fees give them that chance.”

SEE RELATED: Public defender urges SF to end gang injunctions against minorities

Though the state would still continue to levy dozens of other fees, San Francisco’s fees alone can cost a person between $2,000 and $5,000, according to Breed’s Legislative Aide Samantha Roxas. The City’s fee for probation costs is $1,800 alone.

Yet, Roxas said The City only collects between 9 percent and 18 percent of the fees it assesses per year, which can amount to less than $1 million annually, because of people’s inability to pay.

“Not only do these fees create barriers to reentry for people who are exiting the criminal justice system, they’re an inefficient source of revenue for The City and are costly to administer,” Breed said.

Breed will announce the legislation alongside Supervisor Malia Cohen, Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Human Rights Commission Director Sheryl Davis and Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

“Fees in a criminal case are the equivalent of payday loans, where they tell you that if you plead guilty, you’ll get out of jail,” Adachi said. “But then they tack on over 50 fees that will keep you buried in debt forever.”

Adachi said people of color are disproportionately affected by the fees.

“These fees are substantial and are primarily leveled on people with very low incomes who cannot afford to pay them,” Adachi said.

Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeink

Michael Barba
Share
Published by
Michael Barba

Recent Posts

SF gets $2 million to avoid building new jail, shrink inmate population

A plan to avoid the need to build a new jail in San Francisco by reducing the number of people…

4 mins ago

Board settles firefighter lawsuit alleging repeated sexual harassment

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $575,000 settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by firefighter Suzanne Montes,…

4 hours ago

Person struck by train south of 22nd Street station

A Caltrain struck a person on the tracks in San Francisco Tuesday afternoon, according to the transit agency. The person…

4 hours ago

Supes strike deal with mayor over minimum wage hike for homecare, nonprofit workers

After more than a year, a proposal to give a minimum wage bump to homecare workers and nonprofit employees was…

4 hours ago

SF prosecutors say man shot by U.S. Park Police wielded gun at officer

The U.S. Park Police officer who shot the driver of a parked car in San Francisco saw the man “wield”…

5 hours ago

Citing management failures, city withholds funds for Salesforce Transit Center expansion

A city transportation body voted Tuesday to suspend “all further financial assistance” for work on the Salesforce Transit Center, citing…

6 hours ago