Abolishing Criminal System Fees – AB 177

2021 – PASSED

In September of 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 177 into law.

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.  

AB 177 would end the collection of an additional 17 administrative fees charged to people who come into contact with the criminal system. The bill also discharges over an estimated $534 million in debt.

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.