Supervisors Committee Approves Ending Court Fees For Convicted Criminals

September 14, 2018 10:00 am · 36 comments

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee recommended that the full board approve the elimination of administrative court fees for people who are convicted of crimes.

The committee took that action at the end of a lengthy hearing at which several activist groups said the fees should be eliminated because they often are a long-term financial burden on low-income people who already served time for their crimes and then have problems turning their lives around.

They said that’s because the debts cause such people to have problems getting credit, housing and jobs.

If the full board votes next month to approve eliminating the court fees, Alameda County would become only the second county in the U.S. to do so, following San Francisco, which took that step earlier this year.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty said ending the fees “makes sense because that would help people who are trying to become productive citizens, getting housing and moving on with their lives.”

Haggerty said, “It’s a no-brainer.”

Supervisor Richard Valle said, “We’re moving in a really positive direction.”

Alameda County Chief Probation Officer Wendy Still told the committee that defendants are charged probation supervision fees of between $30 to $90 per month and pre-charge investigation report fees of between $250
and $710.

Still said it’s difficult for many low-income people to pay the court fees they owe and currently 34,415 ex-offenders are indebted and owe a total of $21.3 million, which is an average of about $600 a person.

Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods also urged the committee to eliminate the fees, saying they are “crippling” and “have a huge impact on low-income defendants.”

Haggerty said, “It’s ridiculous we’re causing these debts.”

Among the groups that are urging Alameda County to eliminate the court fees are the East Bay Community Law Center, a Berkeley-based legal services provider that represents low-income people, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a non-profit group based in Oakland.

The law center said that in 2016, Alameda County eliminated juvenile fees and fines, which led to the passage of a bill that made California the first state in the country to eliminate those fees and fines for juveniles.

The center says it has convened a statewide coalition to end adult criminal justice fees throughout California.

QUESTION: Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing, and do you think they should do this in Contra Costa County?

aDingoAteMyBaby September 14, 2018 at 10:16 AM

Why not just make their productivity in prison result in minimum wage payments that get directly applied to this debt? If they’re productive in prison, they get out without debt. Productive could mean doing actual work within the prison, taking classes for self improvement or going to counseling.

Gititogether September 14, 2018 at 11:41 AM

You’re too logical to be a politician

Sign from Above September 14, 2018 at 1:21 PM

They don’t pay their debt when they get out anyway!

Chicken Little September 14, 2018 at 10:20 AM

I’ll be amazed if they DON’T do it in Contra Costa County, but that doesn’t mean they should.

Reality says... September 14, 2018 at 10:26 AM

“Still said it’s difficult for many low-income people to pay the court fees they owe and currently 34,415 ex-offenders are indebted and owe a total of $21.3 million, which is an average of about $600 a person.”

1) Then maybe low-income should keep their sh%t straight and stay out of trouble. Crazy idea, I know, but let’s just throw that out there.

2) So who is going to pick up the 21M for probation supervision and court fees? O, ME??? Sure, let people who kept out of trouble and work hard everyday people up the cost for people who don’t/didn’t. Straight BS.

I’m guessing no one put a provision in there that states if you are a repeat offender you will be responsible for these fees? I would say what better way to ensure these people go out and get a job then knowing they have to pay these court fees.

Sign from Above September 14, 2018 at 1:29 PM

Hmmmmm. Seems I’ve heard the term “soft on crime Democrats” here before. First they change felonies into lesser crimes, then they release criminals accused of lesser crimes, now they stop charging them for the court costs THEY have acquired! Why wouldn’t they continue their life of crime? The benefits far outweigh the downsides! This state is screwed up!

Sick of it September 14, 2018 at 10:43 AM

This is ridiculous. Break the law and face the fine. Buy removing all of this the deterent is reduced or removed Next thing you know they will start paying these low life for interrupting there crime sprees. If they keep making it easier on the criminals then they need to relax the gun laws so it’s easier to get a carry permit since there doing nothing to protect us and mak8ng it more dangerous.

S September 14, 2018 at 10:49 AM

So, the innocent pay and the crook doesn’t. Stickin’ it to us again.

Cellophane September 14, 2018 at 1:04 PM


Concord Mike September 14, 2018 at 10:50 AM

What about the victims? They are the ones who deserve restitution, and they are the only ones who should be allowed to forgive or reduce a criminal’s financial liability.

Dawg September 14, 2018 at 10:59 AM

It’s a double whammy. Even though they are criminals, and that can be anybody from a traffic citation to armed robbery, most of them are tax payers and our taxes already pay for the courts.

Shoulda Coulda September 14, 2018 at 12:27 PM

Are your taxes already paying for
your probation supervision fees?
The fees are not going away.
Only folks who did the crime wont pay.
So glad you’re willing to pay to cover
the fees so people who did the crimes
and are on probation won’t have to.
You could say in some cases the
innocent taxpayer is getting robbed twice.

eric September 14, 2018 at 12:36 PM

That’s a big assumption to assume “most of them are tax payers”. I teach in a correctional facility and the majority of the inmates I teach have a spotty employment history at best. What taxes do you think they are paying?

Sign from Above September 14, 2018 at 1:32 PM

As Shoulda Coulda says, your tax dollars are/were not paying for court costs etc. The criminal was. However, you will be paying now. Then, if this is the case, I really don’t think I should have to pay the fine if I’m caught speeding! Yeah, that’ll go over well!

Smartin September 14, 2018 at 11:15 AM

I didn’t see who would then be responsible for paying the fees/expense… The tax payers, naturally. I say hell no to picking up the tab for a criminal. If they cannot pay, they should WORK off their debt. There’s plenty of crap to pick up off our streets; literally in SF.

LOL! September 14, 2018 at 11:18 AM

Well guess who is gonna pick up the tab for that $21M? LOL!!!

RANDOM TASK September 14, 2018 at 11:20 AM

Wow ….so fake news at its best

Those who can’t pay ….do jail time but obviously the dems are securing the vote of parents of criminals by recinding bail and not forcing their children to do extra time because they can’t pay ….

Dems will eat worms to get your vote and secure their money train congrats on being tools catered to by the devils you so graciously accept as saviors

May your children be so kind

Mika September 14, 2018 at 11:47 AM

So stick it to the honest, hard working taxpayer? Government is getting too soft on criminals. Part of their punishment should be a fine to cover admin costs. You play, you pay.

Jojo Potato September 14, 2018 at 11:57 AM

You all are missing the point. I agree that if there is a fine then it should be paid. But what has happened is that every agency involved has added their own fees so the amount owed is much greater. Like the WC parking ticket that has a $3.50 extra fee tacked on if paid by credit card. All these greedy extras is what should go! Go look at the Alameda court fee schedule to see how huge these rip offs are.

Rollo Tomasi September 14, 2018 at 8:01 PM

And you’re missing the point. Wanna avoid those added on fees? There’s a sure way to do that. Let’s see if you can noodle it out.

No Excuses September 14, 2018 at 11:57 AM

A dingo ate my baby had the BEST IDEA. Everyone else had good points. I suggest that if you do the crime, you not only do the time, but you pay your own way in this world. Oh, but snowflakes and socialists thinks that’s cruel — and the victim should continue to foot the bill. WTH?

Chicken Little September 14, 2018 at 12:01 PM

Bail has been eliminated. Court fees are going away. What’s next? Are they going to eliminate fines because poor people can’t afford them?

Maybe we should start caning people, since that transcends economic boundaries.

Concord Mike September 14, 2018 at 12:21 PM

Exactly. There is true fairness in corporal punishment. Rich or poor, the cane hurts just the same. Less expensive for taxpayers too. No jail to pay for. Get caned and get back to work! No soup for you!

RANDOM TASK September 14, 2018 at 12:26 PM

Wait again the dems show so thing shiny and the lemmings are in awe

What is going on here is simple …the dems are saying if you are POOR you can ( COMMIT CRIMES) and not have to pay they don’t fine you or make you post bail or even put you in jail


The dems are unleashing chaos to drive out actual logical law abiding tax paying people from this state and be left with a bunch of people designated by letters of their choosing and bums and criminals all under a welfare state system designed to keep you down ….thing is if you run off all the hard working tax paying people who pays for those that don’t work and steal for a living and or work….. no participate in community patronage services

Demifornia is forcing out citizens in favor of criminals and bums and illegals for what…. is there a dem out there that can explain how a state can run off of herbs and bums and illegals and criminals and nothing else but programs to enforce voting dem is this a way to declare the state all dem and split it into 3 and be able to secure the potus for ever …..

These are truly outrageous times when politicians sell out a state to secure total rule by a single party ruler

Tsa September 14, 2018 at 1:54 PM

You talk about one of the many reasons why we are leaving this cesspool of a state. I encourage everyone to check out other states, there really are some sane people outside of California…

Disgusting September 14, 2018 at 12:58 PM

The next thing to happen, is to not charge the poor people with a crime in the first place. That way they can commit a crime, not be out any money, and get a job immediately after the crime. That will get the Democrats lots of votes.

RANDOM TASK September 14, 2018 at 1:01 PM

yay this is great so only the people arrested with money will do jail time and pay fines …..

hmmm sounds bias …..but no not in demifornia everyone is equal right

so those fines went to administration and office salaries now who pays those

oh yeah people with money pay fines …..

idea canel bank accounts and never do time or have to pay ….great idea demifornia

Cellophane September 14, 2018 at 1:13 PM

A guy commits a crime, gets caught and goes home at the end of the day with a note to appear before a judge some months in the future.

He goes to trial, gets convicted, get’s probation. Goes away a free man.

He should be able to charge the county back for the time he spent in custody when arrested and the time he spent in the courtroom being convicted.

That’s valuable time spent away from committing other crimes.

DB September 14, 2018 at 2:00 PM

It’s funny how these activist groups don’t seem to mention who these fees are then going to be pushed to if they are no longer paid by the convicted criminals. Oh, right…tax-paying, non-criminal citizens. Do these leftist activists and politicians think anything through anymore? It baffles the mind.

The Professor September 14, 2018 at 2:12 PM

They release “non-violent offenders” early.
They eliminate bail.
They want to eliminate fees.
Why not just eliminate the police and courts? It seems that they begin the cruel cycle that imprisons these poor victims of the system.

Commit the crime, you should suffer the consequences. Punishment is just a hollow word if it doesn’t sting.

Elwood September 14, 2018 at 3:22 PM

I say do away with the criminal justice system entirely.

Give everyone a rifle and return to vigilantism.

No Excuses September 14, 2018 at 6:53 PM

By leaving the state, you are just turning it over, without a fight, to the Socialist/Commies. Stay, #WalkAway ! Stand up for what’s right!

Cautiously Informed September 14, 2018 at 7:14 PM

Just another of the never ending examples of how the California politicians defend, support and encourage criminals and crime.

Rollo Tomasi September 14, 2018 at 7:34 PM

I’m sure that the insightful, highly effective politicians running this state will soon start eliminating some of the myriad fees foisted upon law abiding tax payers.

No Excuses September 14, 2018 at 8:04 PM

When’s the last time you got a parking ticket or even a speeding ticket or worse yet a DUI…and there was a place on the ticket to check off: ” I cannot afford to pay this ticket”

Citizen September 14, 2018 at 11:50 PM

Obviously trying to collect these fees is not working. Instead they should have a way to work off the charge. How about cleaning the roadways or parks for six weekends=$600.00?

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