Cited in Plain Sight: How California Polices Being Black, Brown, and Unhoused in Public

Our newest report reveals deep racial disparities in enforcement for non-traffic infractions, the most low-level violations in both state and local municipal codes, punishable by a fine. They do not include harms to people or property, but instead criminalize everyday behaviors such as standing, sleeping, owning a dog, and crossing the street.Though the citations are criminal, there is no right to an attorney, and therefore little recourse for people who are targeted for enforcement because of their race. The result is hundreds of dollars in fines and fees people cannot afford to pay, and, in some counties, warrants and arrests for people who do not either pay or appear in court. This ongoing form of police harassment of Black and Latinx communities, people experiencing homelessness, and people with disabilities can cause trauma, and enforcement of minor infractions has led to police violence. Read our report and explore our interactive map of infraction hotspots in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Long Beach.

Towed into Debt: How Towing Practices in California Punish Poor People

Our latest report, Towed into Debt: How Towing Practices in California Punish Poor People, reveals how local governments use car towing and the associated fees in ways that disproportionately harm Californians living in poverty. Hundreds of thousands of California drivers have their cars towed every year for non-emergency, non-safety related reasons. Unpaid tickets, expired registration, and parking for more than 72 hours make up over a quarter of tows in California. People who can’t afford to pay parking tickets and registration fees often can’t afford to retrieve their vehicles once administrative fees, storage fees, and unpaid tickets are added together, with fee totals often reaching $1500 or more. The result is a lose-lose-lose: people lose their cars, tow yards lose the opportunity to have paying customers on their lot, and local governments lose the opportunity to collect unpaid revenue.
LCCR report showing how excessive fines and fees disparately impact the poor and people of color

Paying More for Being Poor – Bias and Disparity in California’s Traffic Court System

A new study released by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Paying More for Being Poor: Bias and Disparity in California’s Traffic Court System, shows that Californians pay some of the highest fines and fees in the country that create hardships for many middle-class Californians and devastate the lives of Californians with lower incomes. Because of over-policing in communities of color and racial profiling, African-American and Hispanic individuals are more likely to receive traffic tickets and are far more likely to be cited for driving without a license without also being cited for an observable offense. New Bay Area data also reveals that African-Americans are four to sixteen times more likely to be booked into county jail on a charge related to inability to pay a citation.

Small Businesses in Crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area

This report describes the growing phenomenon of small business displacement in the Bay Area, including its particular impact in San Mateo, and proposes legal and policy solutions to mitigate that displacement. Housing shortages, drawn-out development approval processes and the influx of wealth from the technology sector have renewed popular interest in the changing character and demographics of the Bay Area. But despite increasing dialogue around affordable housing and housing evictions, there is little literature describing the unique characteristics of small business displacement in the Bay Area.

Stopped, Fined, Arrested – Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California

Across the nation, an epidemic of injustice has been exposed – the practice of saddling low income people with traffic fines, fees and penalties so steep they are driven deeper into poverty. Making things worse are the arrests and jail time that often follow, leaving people vulnerable to losing their homes and their jobs. Now, adding insult to injury, the findings of a new groundbreaking report Stopped, Fined, Arrested – Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California released today by Back on the Road California (BOTRCA), a consortium of civil legal aid organizations, reveals dramatic racial and socioeconomic disparities in driver’s license suspensions and arrests related to unpaid traffic fines and fees.

Helping Immigrant Clients with Proposition 47 and Other Post-Conviction Legal Options

Deportation is devastating for immigrant families and comes at a high cost for taxpayers as well. Education about available legal relief can help avoid this drastic outcome. In some cases, a minor change in a person’s criminal record can remove immigration consequences — eliminating it as a ground for deportation or helping the person become eligible to apply for immigration status or benefits. Proposition 47 is just one example of California laws that can affect someone’s immigration status and outcomes for certain, prior criminal convictions. This toolkit explains these opportunities further.

Not Just a Ferguson Problem – How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

Over four million Californians are without a valid driver’s license, not because they pose a risk to public safety, but because they are trapped in a spiral of court fines and fees they cannot afford to pay, according to this report. In addition to driving-related citations, infractions such as littering, sleeping outdoors, and failure to pay a transit fare can result in excessive fines that, if unpaid, result in criminal warrants or suspended driver’s licenses and create a vicious cycle of poverty.

Using Proposition 47 to Reduce Convictions and Restore Rights

In November 2014, California voters passed Prop 47, a measure that reclassifies several potential felonies, including simple drug possession and certain theft crimes, as misdemeanors. Using Proposition 47 to Reduce Convictions and Restore Rights, published by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, is intended to help advocates in restoring the basic rights of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, and in turn, their families.

Access to Justice for Immigrant Families and Communities

The recent surge of families migrating to the United States has cast a spotlight on the broken immigration system. Under current U.S. immigration laws and policies, immigrants in Northern California and across the country are not entitled to a lawyer unless they can pay for one or find someone to represent them for free.

THE OFAC LIST: Due process challenges in designation and delisting

Imagine going to the bank only to discover that your account is frozen because the government has branded you a “terrorist.” The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury has the power to do this – behind closed doors, without notice, and with no adequate procedures in place for you to effectively challenge the designation.

Pioneers in Justice: Building Networks and Movements for Social Change

The social justice sector is at a critical inflection point, a moment in which many of its fundamental assumptions and old ways of operating are being challenged. Leadership is transferring from Baby Boomers to a new cadre of ethnically diverse Gen Xers—like the Pioneers—with deep connections to their communities and new perspectives on how to lead the field to greater impact.

Voting Rights Database

This database is modeled after the one created by Ellen Katz, et al., for Documenting Discrimination in Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act Since 1982, 39 Mich J. of L. Reform 643 (2006). Not to be reproduced without the permission of LCCR.

Making the Grade: Contracting with Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses

An East Bay Agency Report Card  San Francisco Bay Area

Government agencies in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area spend millions of dollars in public contracting on an annual basis, for everything from construction contracts to architecture and engineering services to supplies. Historically, minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MBEs and WBEs) have received a very small slice of this very lucrative pie.

Review of California Legislative Victories

Court-Based Criminal Record Remedies Updates: AB 651: AB 651: Realignment & Dismissal Remedies

  • Authored by Assemblymember Bradford
  • Co-Sponsors: CoSponsors:
    • ACLU
    • East Bay Community Law Center
    • A New Way of Life Reentry Project A New Way of Life Reentry Project
    • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
  • First introduced in 2012 (AB 2263) signed into law •First introduced in 2012 (AB 2263), signed into law on October 13, 2013
  • Goes into effect Jana 1 2014

Clearinghouse Review: Racial & Immigrant Justice

For civil rights advocates today, understanding that immigrant rights are part and parcel of the broader struggle for civil rights is crucial to change-making in the United States of the twenty-first century. Apathy toward policies that unfairly target immigrants marginalizes the challenges faced by communities throughout the country. Moreover, failing to grasp the fundamental connection between immigrant rights and civil rights limits one’s understanding of the full panoply of civil rights issues and hampers effective advocacy for all Americans.

Muslims Need Not Apply

How USCIS Secretly Mandates the Discriminatory Delay and Denial of Citizenship and Immigration Benefits to Aspiring Americans

The CARRP program directs agency officers to delay and ultimately deny the immigration benefits applications to applicants it has blacklisted, all without even telling these individuals that they were labeled threats to our nation, let alone giving them an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Pushing the Line

Addressing Inequities in Sequoia Union High School District’s Student Assignment Plan

Students residing in East Palo Alto (“EPA”), a predominantly low‐income, minority neighborhood in the South Bay, are assigned to neighborhood schools in the Ravenswood City  School District through 8th grade.  But in high school, students are divided and assigned to  three different high schools across non‐contiguous boundaries in the Sequoia Union High  School District (“SUHSD”).

Held Back

Addressing Misplacement of 9th Grade Students in Bay Area School Math Classes

The classes that a student takes in 9th grade form the foundation of her high school career, the starting line of a path that will either effectively prepare the student for college and all the opportunities college presents—or not.  When it comes time to apply for college, students are evaluated on whether they are academically prepared and have challenged themselves, which requires colleges to consider a student’s SAT scores, grades, extracurricular activities, and the specific classes a student has taken.