Abolishing Criminal System Fees – SB 586

2021

Low-income people of color are overrepresented at every stage in the criminal legal system. In California and elsewhere, counties charge administrative fees to people who come into contact with the criminal system. This may include drug testing, lab testing, ankle monitors, emergency medical services assessment, and more. These fines and fees can add up to thousands of dollars. Eliminating criminal administrative fees will allow system-involved people and their families to devote their already limited resources to critical needs like food, education, housing, and healthcare.  

SB 586 will end the collection of the over 60 remaining criminal system fees imposed against people in the criminal legal system. 

By eliminating these racially disparate fees, California will further reduce the suffering caused by court-ordered debt and enhance the economic security and wellness of populations with system involvement. This is a vital step towards racial justice, budget equity, and a legal system that does not fund itself by stripping wealth from Black and brown communities. By ensuring this action also ends the collection of and writes-off all debt from previously assessed fees, we will help undo the economic harm from racially biased policing and court decisions.  

SB 586 continues the trajectory of financial justice in California. Last year, we passed AB 1869, which abolished 23 fees in the criminal legal system, effective July 1, 2021. SB 586 builds upon this important first step to eliminate the rest of the fees that remain.  

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