San Francisco Mayor London Breed is celebrating a victory that has made life easier for city residents who are trying to earn a living after being released from jail. A city court order is now allowing for about 21,000 people to be forgiven for $32 million in fees that were intended to cover costs for criminal justice programs.
Breed, who became San Francisco’s first African-American woman mayor in June, had protested the city’s process of collecting money from people after jail releases to recoup costs. The administrative fees had led Breed to spearhead legislation during her time on the city’s Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She believes that the San Francisco Superior Court, which planned Thursday to announce the decision to waive fees, has helped the city to make a good step in the right direction.
“We should be actively helping people to get their lives back on track after they have paid their debt to society,” Breed said in a statement. “Garnishing the wages of people facing the challenging task of securing employment and housing can make that impossible.”
The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office had petitioned the Superior Court on behalf of about 21,000 people to dismiss the payments. With the court’s action, thousands of people will have a lighter financial burden after exiting the criminal justice system. Many of those residents have low incomes and generally can’t afford the fees.
The court-ordered move in San Francisco comes as the fight to jailing people who can’t pay bail has grown. Activists hope that people who are released from jail will not be used to fund the criminal justice system, especially to the point of plunging them further into poverty.