Defendants in California's criminal justice system often face numerous fees related to their cases: Counties can charge them for things like using a public defender ($50) or being arrested ($25).
Defendants Must Pay for a Public Defender. New Bill Aims to End That Fee (And Others)
Senate Bill 144, sponsored by state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would prevent counties from assessing and collecting those administrative fees.
"This practice inflicts unfair debt on incarcerated people and their families long after they have served their time," she said Tuesday in introducing the bill at a press conference.
Angelique Evans, who joined the press conference, said she faced so many fees when she was released from prison — more than $300 a month — that she struggled to take care of her son.
“To make ends meet, I took on jobs that I knew my body could not handle, such as landscaping and solar installation," said Evans, who lives in Los Angeles. "I was literally wearing myself out.”
Mitchell said recent studies show most counties don't even track collection rates. Those that did keep track found low collection rates and a high cost of collection.
"Communities, courts, counties and evidence-based studies make it abundantly clear that the fees are high pain and low gain," she said.
In 2017 Mitchell authored a similar bill, SB 190, that eliminated the fees for juvenile offenders.