Coalition to End Driver’s License Suspensions Petitions Governor Brown to Revise Amnesty Proposal

Donna Turner’s story exemplifies why the Governor’s proposal needs modification

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Media Contact:Candice Francis / Communications Director, LCCR /  415.543.9697 x216 / cfrancis@lccr.com

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the coalition that published, Not Just a Ferguson Problem – How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California”, launched a petition drive on behalf of Donna Turner who had her license suspended when a person who purchased her car received numerous “red light” violations that he didn’t respond to and for which she was held responsible. Unable to pay the fines in full in order to plead her case, she encountered a plethora of problems. The petition implores Governor Brown to go above and beyond his soon to be unveiled amnesty proposal that restores licenses and reduces traffic court debts by 50% for those with suspended licenses. The proposed program does not address future suspensions and it won’t benefit people unable to pay off their remaining debt. With this petition, we hope to form a critical mass that will apply enough pressure to end the practice of license suspension altogether.

As described in the aforementioned report, over four million Californians are without a valid driver’s license, not because they pose a risk to public safety, but because they are trapped in a spiral of court fines and fees they cannot afford to pay. In addition to driving-related citations, infractions such as littering, sleeping outdoors, and failure to pay a transit fare can result in excessive fines that, if unpaid, result in criminal warrants or suspended driver’s licenses and create a vicious cycle of poverty.

The report was published on April 8, 2015 by leading civil legal aid and community groups, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), the Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP), A New Way of Life Reentry Project, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC).

The report, “Not Just a Ferguson Problem – How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California”, can be found here.

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Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) – founded in 1968, works to advance, protect and promote the legal rights of communities of color, and low-income persons, immigrants, and refugees. Assisted by hundreds of pro bono attorneys, LCCR provides free legal assistance and representation to individuals on civil legal matters through direct services, impact litigation and policy advocacy. Website: www.lccr.com

The East Bay Community Law Center – provides free legal services to eligible East Bay clients. Since its founding in 1988 by law students at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, EBCLC has become the largest provider of free legal services in the East Bay. To learn more about EBCLC, go to www.ebclc.org. EBCLC’s Consumer Justice Clinic offers legal assistance to low-income residents of Alameda County on a wide range of consumer issues, including debt collection defense, lawsuits relating to credit cards and consumer debt, consumer protection, identity theft, car fraud, and DMV issues, among many others.

Western Center on Law & Poverty – fights in the courts, counties and capital to secure housing, healthcare and a secure safety net for low-income Californians. Western Center brings about system-wide change through pivotal impact litigation; hard hitting advocacy; negotiations with state and local government; and support for local legal aid programs.  Western Center’s work reaches every county in the state. Website: www.wclp.org

A New Way of Life Reentry Project – provides housing and support services to formerly incarcerated women in South Central Los Angeles to facilitate a successful transition back to community life. Since our founding in 1998, ANWOL has helped transform the lives of more than 600 women and their children. ANWOL provides multi-dimensional programs addressing the problem of incarceration and its effects on people, communities, and society as a whole. Website: www.anewwayoflife.org

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children – organizes communities impacted by the criminal justice system and advocates to release incarcerated people, to restore human and civil rights and to reunify families and communities. We build public awareness of structural racism in policing, the courts and prison system and we advance racial and gender justice in all our work. Our strategies include legal support, trainings, advocacy, public education, grassroots mobilization and developing community partnerships. Website: www.prisonerswithchildren.org