Last week, I was helping a friend clear up old non-traffic infractions that had been sent to collection. Over time, my friend had racked up a handful of minor infractions for things like smoking within 25 feet of a trolley station and not having a license for his/her dog as they walked on a Del Mar beach.
In researching ways to help, I stumbled across a state amnesty program signed into law last June for tickets like my friend’s, as well as traffic tickets. The program started Oct. 1, 2015, and ends March 31, 2017. The program offers discounts to people who meet an income threshold, and cuts down on administrative fees for those who’ve had their licenses suspended.
In proposing the program last May, Gov. Jerry Brown called the state’s infraction ticket system a “hellhole of desperation.”
Indeed, a San Francisco-based group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, published a report last year documenting how traffic courts drive inequality in California. The report found that “over four million Californians do not have valid driver’s licenses because they cannot afford to pay traffic fines and fees. These suspensions make it harder for people to get and keep jobs, further impeding their ability to pay their debt. They harm credit ratings … Ultimately they keep people in long cycles of poverty that are difficult, if not impossible to overcome.”
Just before the amnesty program law passed last year, the state’s chief justice issued an emergency rule rule “that makes it clear that Californians do not have to pay for a traffic infraction before being able to appear in court.”
My friend’s story certainly illustrates how crippling the fines can be — this person had worked hard the past two years to rebuild from alcoholism, homelessness and indigence. Before any financial progress could be made with a new, good paying job, my friend’s wages were garnished by the Franchise Tax Board for “court-ordered debt.” In researching the situation so no further wages are lost, I stepped into that “hellhole of desperation.” Our courts outsource collection of fines to private corporations; for San Diego Superior and Traffic Court, this is a company called AllianceOne.
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There are other documents I could place from the DMV that reported the issue & requested the stop that RoadOne deliberately ignored, proceeded selling my vehicle (on 9/11/2014 despite the USN retiree identification & Naval Base parking decals), disposed of my property, & then further billed me for thousands of $.
There are other facets of corruption that should get recognized about the kleptocracy proliferating in that area during the years when Park Blvd was getting destroyed for the rapid bus to nowhere boondoggle along with implementing more signs (perpetrating the street weeping scam that Storm & Wastewater exploits twice per month) along with installing more meters & other absurd conditions that the kleptocracy exploits to haul in the clandestine & ill-gotten funds (those funds & the ARRA dole from the Federal govt, yet somehow espousing budget deficit & inability to maintain infrastructure).
During & proceeding that three year period of Park Blvd disruption, the three-wheeled thieves & others had also taken advantage of the recent higher density allowed in the immediate area (numerous multi-unit structures along Georgia & Florida Streets, Park Blvd, ...) that has imposed problems & maladjustment for the citizens already situated in the area but reduced parking conditions were exacerbated especially when there were events promoted in the area from Balboa Park, the annual Greek Orthodox church festival, & else.
Along with that exploitation by the kleptocracy, my vehicle was vandalized & burglarized on two separate incidents although I suspect that the San Diego kleptocracy & terrorists that were persecuting me also perpetrated those crimes (where the records were altered) along with the mail tampering & theft.
I am one of the advocates who helped create this program here in Sacramento. I appreciate the information on AllianceOne and have passed along this information to the Judicial Council. This is not the first time we have heard about problems with them. It is also not the first time we have heard of problems in San Diego which a month ago had one of the lowest take up rates for amnesty in the state. The local courts and the county need to do more to promote this in the local media.
As for the question of how good is a program if no one knows. Actually a notice is going into every vehicle registration notice in seven languages about the program. And while I wish we were running a multi-million dollar TV campaign, the current amnesty program has had four times more applicants in the first three months than the last amnesty program had in total. Thousands of people have already gotten their licenses back. So something IS working, probably by word of mouth. And amnesty is not just for the poor. It is for anyone. The poor just get a bigger discount.
The good news is the program is going to run until March 2017 so there is still plenty of time to fix the bugs in the program and plenty of time to take advantage of amnesty.
The question of "if no one knows, are the programs any good?" is a resounding NO. I once knew of $400 million dollars available for vocational training and the monies available was not allowed to be used to advertise the grant. So, no one was told. As a result, as per design the unspent grant money went into the general fund after 2 yrs. and there you have it. The grant was a front for general fund inflation in the name of the needy blue collar workers and young students.
I was a certified trainer that could have trained people to be plumbers and not just plumbers, but specifically, plumbers that are trained to install emerging technologies. The need for this is exemplified by the fact that the failure of these products is not because they are no good, but that they are installed poorly. The plumbing industry products emergence has passed the plumbers knowledge and skill set. As well, the maintenance of these products that were installed poorly, or even the ones installed correctly, are not being maintained correctly and as result not delivering promised efficacy.
So,back the the tree in the forrest, if it falls, and no one could hear it, did it make a sound?. I say no.
Great information Martha. It should also be required that the state also send out information to people who have outstanding violations on the books. Thanks for the article.