A variety of County of Marin fees relating to criminal justice services have been eliminated by a resolution signed this month by the Marin County Board of Supervisors.
This action brings the County of Marin into compliance with Assembly Bill (AB) 1869, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020. The bill repeals the authority of counties through 23 code provisions that allow for the charging and collection of a variety of criminal justice fees in the Probation, Public Defender, and Sheriff’s offices.
In Marin, only four of the 23 authorized administrative fees were being charged – for Probation services and alternate custody program administration. All other fees impacted by the bill were not charged by the county or, in the case of the Public Defender, ceased and discharged prior to the requirement of AB 1869.
“Historically, we have only collected a fraction of the fees being charged,” said Alisha Krupinsky, Director of Adult Probation. “The minimal positive impact they have on our budget far outweighs the expense that the debt has on our clients.”
Prior to the June 15 action, a person on Probation would be charged a $50 monthly fee for court-ordered supervision in addition to any court-ordered fees and fines.
The resolution is part of a broader trend in the State of California of legislative efforts to reduce or eliminate criminal justice fees. A press release from the county said “academic studies demonstrate that the fees can be counter-productive and disproportionately affect lower-income households. Justice-involved people already face significant challenges finding employment and housing and often cannot afford to pay criminal fees. Criminal justice fees have been found to significantly burden low-income families with debt.”
The criminal justice administrative fees targeted for elimination by AB 1869 are assessed on individuals who have already paid other consequences for their crimes. They have often served time in jail, paid other fines or are paying victim restitution. The goals of these local criminal justice fees are to generate revenue to cover costs, not create an additional layer of punishment.
“Approximately 80% of Californians in jail are indigent and too many enter the criminal justice system due to the criminalization of their poverty,” said Chief Probation Officer Marlon J. Washington. “Eliminating these fees is an important step toward creating more equity in the justice system. We can’t expect people to move forward with their rehabilitation if we are holding them back with insurmountable debt.”
The fee elimination is in line with other equity measures existing at the County of Marin. Equity is one of the Marin County Board of Supervisors’ top-priority “Four E’s” of ongoing focus: Equity, Education, Economy, and Environment. The County’s focus on equity and inclusion includes condemnation of all forms of discrimination and intolerance.