By Jhumpa Bhattacharya


A lot happened on election day this week, including the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passing vital legislation to waive all unpaid debt and eliminate county-level administrative fees that are currently charged to people exiting the criminal justice system. Los Angeles County can and should follow suit to help families who have struggled under the burden of a biased criminal justice system.

Introduced by Supervisor and Mayoral candidate London Breed in February, the San Francisco ordinance ends 10 common criminal justice administrative fees that get attached to items like court ordered alcohol testing, emergency medical response, and electronic monitoring.

The unjust nature of fines and fees has gained national attention in recent years since the release of the Ferguson Report. The reality is that the purpose of these types of fees is to raise revenue. Charged to people who have already paid their debt to society, they serve no formal punitive function and cause undue harm to low-income communities and communities of color by pushing them into debt.

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