Hundreds of Families Will Be Getting a Check from Contra Costa County

Around 500 mostly low-income families in Contra Costa County will soon be receiving a check from their county’s probation department. Contra Costa intends to pay back a total of $136,000 with interest billed to parents of incarcerated children after the practice was banned by a new state law.

Criminal justice reform groups like The Marshall Project have been calling on state and local governments to ban the practice for at least two years. While moratoriums are now in place around the state and in other parts of the country, Contra Costa’s decision to reimburse the families and wipe out any eligible debt appears to be unique.

“You never like to lose revenue, but this was a real hardship for folks — and we’re able to absorb the cost of paying them back,” said the county’s chief probation officer Todd Billeci.

The Board of Supervisors signed off on the plan last month. In addition to repaying families billed since 2010, the county has canceled more than $8.5 million of outstanding debt in 11,000 other cases.


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