The general public and policy leaders are often unaware of the human toll of excessive fines and fees that exceed people’s ability to pay them. Nor do leaders realize that solutions often exist that work better, both for government and for people. To inform and build awareness, we publish issue briefs, op-eds, and generate media coverage on our key findings, recommended solutions, and of the inequitable burden of these fines and fees.
Key Publications Include:
Criminal Justice Fees: High Pain for People, Low Gain for Government. In May 2018, San Francisco became the first county in the nation to pass legislation to eliminate administrative fees charged to people exiting the criminal justice system. This report outlines how 1) the fees are assessed to low-income people who cannot afford to pay them 2) increase barriers to reentry and the odds of recidivism; and 3) are an anemic counterproductive source of revenue for the city and county of San Francisco. The report outlines the our key findings on the human and fiscal impacts of the fees; the fee collection rates; the process to advance this legislation, and recommendations for other counties considering similar reforms. The report is available here.
San Francisco Fines and Fees Task Force Report: Initial Findings and Recommendations. Our first year was about identifying and understanding community pain points, generating buy in from key players, advancing doable solutions, and getting initial traction on reforms. We also worked to raise awareness of the problem and potential solutions. We formed and chaired a countywide San Francisco Fines and Fees Task Force with participation from the courts, key city and county departments, legal service providers, and community groups. When reviewing fines and fees, our goals were to hold people accountable, while ensuring that consequences are proportionate to the offense and do not disproportionately impact low-income San Franciscans. In May of 2017, we released a report outlining our initial findings and recommended reforms in several policy areas, including transportation fines and fees, quality of life citations that are often issued to people struggling with homelessness, and child support debt owed to the government. Include thumbnail with picture of report. The report is available here.
Do the Math: Money Bail Doesn't Add Up for San Francisco In June of 2017, the Financial Justice Project released a report on San Francisco’s system of money bail. The report illustrates how this privatized system, operating at the heart of the criminal justice system, strips $10-15 million a year in nonrefundable bail fees from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The report outlines the key problems with the money bail system in San Francisco, and outlines potential solutions for reform. Include thumbnail with picture of report. The report is available here.