San Francisco is set to become the first city in the nation to do away with criminal justice fees. The fees are intended to make criminals help pay for the cost of releasing them back into society.
In San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday, elected leaders praised cutting those fees and said they only put a financial burden on people trying to restart their lives. But when NBC Bay Area took a closer look, we found most parolees and others recently released from jail do not pay every fee -- and most only pay a fraction.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed rallied support for the legislation that would eliminate 10 city fees typically imposed on people getting out of jail.
"They are counter productive problematic sources of revenue born on the backs of our most vulnerable populations in San Francisco and we're not having it anymore," Breed said.
It costs $50 a month in fees for people to be on probation. There are also fees for electronic ankle monitors and fees for participating on work alernative programs.
"We put people who are trying to make the best of a tough situation in an untenable position," said Malia Cohen, District 10 supervisor. "We virtually make it impossible."
Cohen's impassioned statement does not take into account the sliding scale on at least two of the 10 fees.
"For example, in our electronic monitoring some 70 percent of people never pay a dime to participate," San Francisco Undersheriff Matthew Freeman said.
In fact, only 9 to 15 percent of the fees imposed on people convicted of crimes in San Francisco are ever paid, which supporters of the legislation would argue is another reason for eliminating them.
"What's the point if those fees aren't being charged?" Breed said. "So why don't we just take those fees off the books?"
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said there are 55 fines and fees ordered against people convicted of crimes in San Francisco. If passed, the new city law would eliminate 10 of the local fees administered by the city.
- Probation Cost (PC 1203.1b) - $50 per month, usually charged as $1,800 up front
- Presentence Report - $150
- Booking Fee - $135
- Alcohol Testing - $50
- EMS Penalty - $2 for every $10 of penalties, fines or forfeitures
- Restitution Collection Fee - 15 percent of restitution
- Juvenile Restitution Collection Fee - 10 percent of restitution
- Electronic Monitoring - $125 sign-up fee, plus $35 a day
- Home Detention Program
- Sheriff's Work Alternative Program Fee - $100 sign-up fee, plus $20 a day
- Restitution Fine Administrative Fee
- Automated County Warrant System