Alameda County contracts with Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA) to provide court-ordered GPS tracking and alcohol monitoring devices for people on pre-trial or home detention. Individuals are required to pay a $150 “Initial Enrollment and Administrative Fee” and a $2.50 per day or $765 per month. Both must be paid at least two weeks in advance. LCA also charges $25 for drug tests, which they require of people even if drugs or alcohol are unrelated to their offense. Failure to pay these fees may result in the termination of the tracking program and jail. Plaintiffs have sacrificed their homes and borrowed money to pay LCA’s fees in order to avoid jail.
Although LCA is supposed to charge fees on a sliding scale based on a person’s ability to pay, LCA does not adjust its fees based on a person’s actual financial circumstances and never informs people that reduced fees are available. If a person asks about reduced fees, LCA asserts that there will be processing delays and waiting lists, and then determines ability-to-pay based on household income rather than the individual’s income.
In this class action, Plaintiffs contend that the LCA program violates the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) because LCA and the County have conspired to extort money from plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also contend that by delegating responsibility for the tracking program to LCA, Alameda County has violated the Due Process clause which prohibits judicial and civil and criminal law enforcement officials from having a direct financial interest in the cases they prosecute and manage.
Case is still pending before the Northern District of California Oakland Division.
You can find a detailed summary and read the text of the complaint here, and you can also read more about a plaintiff, James Brooks.