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San Francisco Eliminates Burdensome Fees For People Convicted Of Crimes

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The San Francisco Sheriff's Department says people convicted of crimes will no longer have to pay fees for electronic monitoring, or community service.

The move is part of a larger push to alleviate what critics have said is the unfair burden the criminal justice system places on low-income people.

"They've already paid their debt to society," said SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed. "Yet outside, they are shackled by the financial debt that these fees bring to the table."

Breed said she's seen firsthand how these fees can cripple someone who has recently broken the law. She has even had to help her own family members pay them.

"We are determined in this city to reform our criminal justice system, and this is just one small way to remove a tremendous barrier that is going to be life-changing," she said.

Breed says the fees add up fast.

For an adult probation fee, it's approximately $1,800 up front. The fee for an electronic monitoring device is $125 to sign up and $25 a day to use it. Add this on top of a booking fee and a pre-sentence report fee among others. The total is $2,500.

The San Francisco Sheriff's Department is already getting behind the effort. In fact, starting Tuesday, the department is dropping all electric monitoring and work alternative program fees.

Matthew Freeman is the Under Sheriff for the Department.

"It is good policy to do all that we can to aid offenders in their successful reentry into San Francisco," says Freeman.

For people like Joe Williams, a father of two, he says this proposed law would make his life a lot easier. He wouldn't say what crime he committed nor how much he owed in fees.

"Because I'm working these two extra jobs, I feel like they don't get the quality of life they deserve," says Williams. "I feel like I'm not getting the quality of life that I deserve."

Breed presented the proposed legislation on Tuesday and it will go to committee next month.

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