Fall 2020
Dear PAC friends and alumnx,

What extraordinary times. A public health and economic crisis, a racial justice reckoning, and unprecedented threats to our democracy and the planet. As stressful and uncertain as these times are, we also have a rare opportunity to remake our society into one that is significantly more just and equitable.

The clinic cannot address everything that ails us, but PAC staff and students are working tirelessly to do our part to dismantle racist and unjust systems. In particular, we have redoubled our efforts to abolish racialized wealth extraction in the juvenile and criminal legal systems. And as you’ll see below, we have had some very gratifying success this year working alongside other advocates and activists:

  • California ended juvenile fees once and for all, relieving youth and families of more than $360 million.

  • California got rid of almost two dozen of the most common and harmful adult fees and will discharge almost $16 billion in outstanding debt.

  • California suspended wage garnishment, bank levies, and tax intercepts on all state-imposed debt early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • More than 130 groups across the country and political spectrum signed onto our call to suspend juvenile fees and fines during the pandemic.

  • We will launch a national Debt Free Justice campaign in early 2021 to eliminate juvenile fees across the country.

  • A big part of what is making this work possible is the addition of four new fellows this fall. Read more below about the amazing people who have joined our team!

Thank you for supporting our work, which means so much to us — please keep in touch with us as we work together for a brighter future.
Peace and love,

Jeff & Stephanie
Clinic News
California lawmakers outlaw collection of juvenile fees
Based on years of clinic research finding that juvenile fees are harmful, unlawful, and costly, students drafted a bill discharging all remaining juvenile fees in California, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed in September. Senate Bill 1290 had broad bipartisan support and will end once and for all the collection of fees that extract wealth disproportionately from low-income Black and Latinx families. The bill was supported by a coalition of more than 60 groups across the state, building on the progress made by Senate Bill 190, which abolished new juvenile fees in 2018.
Governor signs historic bill repealing unjust criminal fees in CA
The clinic represented the Debt Free Justice California coalition, which recently persuaded the Legislature to pass Assembly Bill 1869, a budget bill signed by the governor that eliminates 23 regressive and racially discriminatory fees in the adult criminal system. The bill further requires counties to write off an estimated $15.9 billion in outstanding fees. This historic reform, the first of its kind nationwide, will reduce the harm caused by court-imposed debt and strengthen the economic and emotional well-being of low-income communities and communities of color.
Clinic protects California families from debt collection during pandemic
In partnership with the East Bay Community Law Center and other members of the Debt Free Justice California coalition, the clinic played a key role last spring in persuading California Controller Betty Yee to stop intercepting tax refunds, garnishing wages, and levying bank accounts for state-imposed debt during the COVID-19 pandemic, making the state the first to take such a step. Coalition members acted quickly as they saw COVID-19 begin to devastate communities — particularly Black, Latinx, and low-income families — causing widespread layoffs and loss of healthcare and housing. Above: PAC Supervising Attorney Stephanie Campos-Bui ’14 (holding folders), clinic student Sarah Edwards M.P.P. ’20, and Asher Waite-Jones ’16, supervising attorney in EBCLC’s Clean Slate Clinic (back row, fourth and third from right), visit Sacramento to meet with the governor’s office about the bill.
Clinic takes additional COVID-19 action on juvenile fees
The clinic helped mount a state and national response to COVID-19 and the racial justice reckoning with a special focus on abolishing fees and fines in the juvenile system. In April, we led the effort to organize more than 130 racial, economic, and criminal justice organizations across the country and political spectrum to call for a nationwide moratorium on juvenile fees and fines. Seven California counties ended collection of approximately $75 million in juvenile fees during the COVID-19 state of emergency, and other states have acted to reduce the harm of fines and fees.
National Debt Free Justice campaign to launch in 2021
Thanks to substantial gifts from Arnold Ventures and the Schusterman Family Foundation, the clinic has joined with longtime partners Juvenile Law Center and the National Center for Youth Law to launch a national Debt Free Justice campaign in early 2021. The funds have already allowed the clinic to expand its teaching staff, provide resources to local partners, and begin working to abolish juvenile fees in new states across the Deep South, Southwest, Northwest, and Mountain West. Clinic students are preparing for the campaign’s launch by developing a national strategy, cultivating relationships in new states, and providing support to campaign message testing, video creation, branding work, and a website. Above: Teaching Fellow Devan Shea M.P.P. ’19, then a PAC student, helps lead a breakout group at Berkeley Law during the 2018 convening of lawyers, researchers, and advocates from across the country to share best practices and strategies for juvenile fee reform.
Welcome to our new teaching fellows!
We are delighted to announce the addition of four new teaching fellows to the clinic — Anavictoria Avila, Gus Tupper 20, Rachel Wallace M.P.P. ’20, and Maiya Zwerling M.P.P ’20. Anavictoria joins PAC from the East Bay Community Law Center and is working on fee abolition efforts in three states in the Southwest. Gus is a clinic alumnus who graduated from the law school last spring and is supervising our fee repeal work in the Mountain West. Rachel is a recent alumna of Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and the clinic, where she is leading our juvenile fee abolition in three states in the Deep South. Maiya is also a Goldman School and clinic alumna and is supervising our Oregon fee repeal campaign and providing support to our national Debt Free Justice campaign.
Clinical Program releases first annual report
It’s been a busy year in Berkeley Law’s clinical program. As we rise to meet the demands of the moment, our clinics are providing direct legal services, litigating cutting-edge issues, and conducting policy-based research. View our Annual Report to learn how clinical faculty, staff, and students across our 14 clinics are working to advance racial, economic, and social justice.