Press Release

Governor Brown Signs Bill to Decriminalize Transit Fare Evasion Citations for Youths

SB 882, which helps prevent youths from entering the criminal justice system for transit fare evasion, will take effect in 2017

August 22, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown today signed SB 882, legislation by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, that prohibits youths from being charged with a criminal violation for transit fare evasion and instead treats the offense through an administrative process.

Criminal charges for transit fare evasions can force youths to miss school for court appearances, saddle a youth with a criminal record and, sometimes, result in a youth ending up in juvenile hall.

“I applaud the Governor for signing this important bill that will prevent youths from being drawn into the criminal justice system simply because they can’t pay to ride the bus or train,” Hertzberg said. “This legislation ensures that people under the age of 18 will be held accountable if they jump transit fares – they will face fines and penalties – but they won’t be charged with a criminal violation or be locked up.”

The measure is part of Hertzberg’s ongoing efforts to roll back overly harsh penalties for minor offenses that hit the poor and the working poor especially hard.

Last year, Hertzberg authored SB 405, which, along with Brown’s related budget proposal, established a new traffic amnesty program. The program allows people to talk to a judge if they want to before paying fines, restores driver’s licenses to those with a payment plan and reduces exorbitant fee debts by taking a person’s income into account in setting the fine amount.  

In the first six months of that program, more than 132,000 Californians have received amnesty fine and fee reductions and more than 104,000 Californians have had their suspended driver’s licenses reinstated, according to the California Judicial Council.

SB 882 reduces the likelihood a youth will enter the criminal justice system or drop out of school. Research shows that when a youth makes even one court appearance during school, it quadruples his or her odds of being pushed out of school altogether.

Public transportation is crucial to youths from low-income families because many rely on it to get to school, jobs or health appointments. SB 882 helps prevent youths’ futures from being derailed by a needless criminal violation and saves taxpayers money by eliminating an unnecessary burden on the courts and public safety systems.

The legislation is sponsored by the Youth Justice Coalition, the Children’s Defense Fund-California and the Western Center on Law & Poverty.

“The Governor and Legislature have taken a critical step to reduce the over-criminalization of children and youth,” said Alex Johnson, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-California. “Too many young people of color are being systematically locked up and locked out of opportunities for essentially being black or brown and poor. We thank Senator Hertzberg for his strong leadership to ensure that no child in California is criminally charged for not being able to pay a transit fare.”

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Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district.  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew LaMar
Communications Director
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-4018

 

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