An Effort to Abolish Court Fees Grows in California

In February, the L.A.-based Youth Justice Coalition successfully lobbied the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to vote to eliminate most court-related fines and fees, including probation. Three other counties in California’s Bay Area—San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa—have passed similar measures since 2018. But L.A. courts have continued to collect probation fees and other court-related debts.

“We’ve been trying to collect money from people who don’t have it, and they often end up in jail, or harassed or shaken down. We’re trying to fund our governments on the backs of communities of color, and in a post-COVID world, that is just going to be impossible. I shudder to think of the more draconian collection practices to come.”

Q&A: Oakland Architect Deanna Van Buren Is Building a World Without Prisons

Deanna Van Buren is co-founder, executive director and design director of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, an Oakland-based architecture and real estate development nonprofit working to end mass incarceration by building infrastructure that redefines the entire criminal justice pipeline.

“There’s an entire infrastructure for criminal justice; we could create an entire infrastructure for restorative justice.”