Costs of Injustice: How Criminal System Fees Are Hurting Los Angeles County Families

This report shares the life experiences of Los Angeles County residents to illustrate how criminal justice fines and fees assessed by the County can be overly burdensome and punitive. The authors suggest that these fees trap people in the system and put the financial stability of families at risk, predominantly in Black and Latinx communities. These costs follow people long after their case is finalized and can lead to re-incarceration or longer periods of probation if they are not paid off.  The research also shows that only a small fraction of assessed costs are actually collected.

You can read the full text of the report here.

Key findings
  • Los Angeles County’s fees are some of the highest in the state: LA County charges from $696 to $796 for a pre-sentence investigation report, whereas Contra Costa County charges $176 for the same report.
  • “Los Angeles County dedicates over $4 million to staff probation collection efforts; more than the total probation supervision fees collected and more than a third of all system fees collected.”
  • “National studies indicate that fees are primarily charged to people who are poor; two-thirds of people on probation make less than $20,000 a year and nearly 2 in 5 make less than $10,000 a year.”
  • 75% of adults on probation in Los Angeles County are Black or Latinx.
  • Immediately eliminate all criminal justice fees under Los Angeles county control and discharge outstanding debt.
  • Reinvest savings from reduced collections and criminal legal system costs into community services, including free options for diversion, court-ordered programs, and re-entry support.
  • Establish effective oversight of all program providers and referral agencies operating within the county to prevent them from exploiting families.
  • Support state legislative efforts to minimize criminal system fees.
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