The Financial Justice Project

San Francisco is the first city in the nation to launch a Financial Justice Project to assess and reform how fees and fines impact our city's most vulnerable residents.

Too often government programs and courts levy fines and fees on people, partly to generate revenue to balance public budgets. There is often an insidious unintended impact of this practice---to push people into poverty. These fines and fees can knock people down so hard they can’t get back up. Poor people and people of color are usually hit the hardest. These financial penalties can make government a driver of inequality, not an equalizer.

The Financial Justice Project was launched in November 2016 with the publication of this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Financial Justice Project is housed in the Office of the San Francisco Treasurer, the entity in charge of revenue collection for the City and County.

Together we work with community organizations, advocates, city and county departments, and the courts to enact reforms that result in meaningful change for low-income San Franciscans

Read more about The Financial Justice Project here, and in the San Francisco Fines and Fees Task Force report published in our first year, available here.

What's New?

kids
Urban Institute releases evaluation of San Francisco Child Support Debt Relief Pilot; found parents made more consistent payments, children received more financial support.
For low-income families in California, the majority of their child support payments go to the government, not to children. Last year, parents in California paid $368 million in child support payments repay the cost of public benefits.
phone icon
San Francisco will become the first county in the nation to stop generating revenue from incarcerated people and their families.
Mayor London Breed, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and Treasurer José Cisneros announced that San Francisco will become the first county in the nation to make all phone calls from jail free and end all county markups, or commissions, on jail store items.
Museums for All logo
The Financial Justice Project partners with Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Human Services Agency to launch San Francisco Museums for All.
Driver's license image
San Francisco Ends “Poverty Penalty” - Clears All Driver's License Suspensions for People Who Missed Traffic Court Dates.
Mayor London Breed and Treasurer José Cisneros announced in April 2019 that the City partnered with the San Francisco Superior Court to clear all outstanding holds on people’s driver’s licenses for missing a traffic court date.
The Payback Problem
The Financial Justice Project co-authors report: The Payback Problem: How Taking Parents’ Child Support Payments to Pay Back the Cost of Public Assistance Harms California Low-Income Children & Families.
The report reveals that every year, hundreds of thousands of low-income children do not receive their full child support payment.
SF Public Library
San Francisco Public Library Votes to Eliminate Overdue Fines.
On January 17th, the San Francisco Public Library Commission voted to eliminate fines on overdue materials.
USA
Financial Justice reforms spread across the Bay and Country.
Alameda County became the second county in the nation to eliminate their administrative fees charged to people exiting jail and the criminal justice system.
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San Francisco Superior Court makes it easier for low-income people to pay off traffic tickets.
The San Francisco Superior Court announced new Ability To Pay guidelines for people who struggle to pay off traffic ticket debt.
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San Francisco lifts $32 million in debt from criminal justice fees for 21,000 people
On August 23rd, Mayor London breed announced the San Francisco Superior Court lifted more than $32.7 million in debt from unpaid criminal justice administrative fees off of 21,000 people.
Harvard
The San Francisco Financial Justice Project Named One of Top Innovations in American Government.
The Harvard Kennedy School announced that the San Francisco Financial Justice Project is one of seven finalists for the Innovation in American Government Award.
California
Momentum spreads throughout California to eliminate “high pain/low gain” fees charged to people exiting jail and the criminal justice system!
The Financial Justice Project was proud to cohost a statewide meeting of over 90 people across California who are dedicated to Debt Free Justice and want to eliminate onerous criminal justice administrative fees.
Legislation
Legislation to Eliminate Criminal justice Administrative Fees Receives Unanimous Vote by San Francisco Board of Supervisors
On May 22nd, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to become the first county in the nation to eliminate all local administrative fees charged to people exiting the criminal justice system.
High Pain Low Gain
San Francisco Financial Justice Project releases new report: Criminal Justice Administrative Fees: High Pain for People, Low Gain for Government.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors votes May 22 on an ordinance to make San Francisco the first county in the nation to eliminate all locally-controlled fees assessed from people exiting jail or the criminal justice system.
Towing
San Francisco gives low-income people a break on city’s steep tow and boot fees.
It costs San Franciscans over $500 on average to get their car back when it’s towed.
Governing Magazine
Financial Justice Project featured by Governing Magazine.
The Financial Justice Project was featured by Governing Magazine as an “Innovative Idea Worth Stealing.”
Citations
Have SFMTA citations you can’t afford? For a limited time, enroll in a new low-income payment plan and get your late fees waived.
SFMTA now offers a payment plan for eligible low-income customers.
Scales
San Francisco first in the nation to call for the elimination of criminal justice fees!
Board of Supervisors President London Breed introduced legislation in February that would make San Francisco the first city and county in the nation to eliminate all locally-controlled fees to people exiting the criminal justice system.
Chicago
Chicago Moms and Grandmothers call for a local Financial Justice initiative!
A Chicago nonprofit called Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) worked with mothers and grandmothers to survey families across the city.
Citations
SF MTA cuts fees & makes it easier for low-income people to pay off parking tickets!
Thanks to reforms that received a unanimous vote in January by the Board of Directors of the SF Municipal Transit Authority (SF MTA)
Bullhorn
Six month report to the San Francisco Fines and Fees Task Force.
In October, 2017, the San Francisco Fines and Fees Task Force reconvened to share updates, progress, and next steps.
New America
The Financial Justice Project & The Color of Money.
Financial Justice Project Director Anne Stuhldreher was proud to join New America’s Family-Centered Social Policy program...
Washington Monthly
SF Financial Justice Project op-ed in the Washington Monthly
Financial Justice Project Director Anne Stuhldreher describes how struggling cities increasingly rely on steep fines and penalties
Webinar
The SF Financial Justice Projects presents on webinar: How Fines and Fees Strip Wealth from Low-income Communities
The Financial Justice Project joined our colleagues at PolicyLink and The Ford Foundation to share the the latest research and strategies...
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Financial Justice Project named “An Innovator That is Changing America.”
Check out this CityPalooza profile on The Financial Justice Project...
Financial Justice Project
Do the Math: Money Bail Doesn't Add Up for San Francisco
The Financial Justice project releases report showing that nonrefundable bail fees strip $10-15 million per year from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color...
The Nation
SF Fines & Fees Task Force report generates national, statewide, and local news coverage!
Our report and recommendations for reform have sparked discussion across the country.
Financial Justice Project
The San Francisco Fines & Fees Task Force releases its Initial Findings and Recommendations!
City and County departments and community organizations came together to develop recommendations to reform...
N.P.R.
NPR's All Things Considered profiles The Financial Justice Project!
Listen here to the story : "San Francisco program aims to make fines more fair for the poor”
Aspen Institute
The Financial Justice Project goes to Washington!
Financial Justice Project Director Anne Stuhldreher was honored to join Melody Barnes and Reverend Starsky Wilson at The Arena Stage in Washington DC. for a 30-minute riveting discussion: The Price of Being Poor
The Sacramento Bee
Juvenile Fees Are Self Defeating.
The Financial Justice Project Director Anne Stuhldreher calls on California to stop charging fees to parents whose children our locked up in juvenile halls.
California Sunday Magazine
Check out "Charged"
Check out "Charged"-- a profile of The Financial Justice Project The California Sunday Magazine
SF Chronicle
Treasurer José Cisneros announces The Financial Justice Project in this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
He writes: “I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable when our local government levies fines on people who cannot afford to pay them.
Bail Bonds
On January 31, Treasurer José Cisneros testified on at a statewide hearing on our system of bail.
The Treasurer stated: “I firmly believe that when City and County resources are spent to keep people in jail..."
The Washington Post
Director of Financial Justice Anne Stuhldreher describes how 30 states restrict the voting rights
Director of Financial Justice Anne Stuhldreher describes how 30 states restrict the voting rights of Americans who owe fines and fees to the criminal justice system.