An $80 ticket turned into an $800 debt: New report shows how California court fees pile up
A new report finds a relatively obscure courts fee called civil assessments is hitting hundreds of thousands of low-income Californians, many of color, for missing the deadline to pay traffic tickets. - Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The trouble began when Anaheim resident Stephanie Jeffcoat lost her car in 2016. Forced to sleep in a tent and struggling with addiction, Jeffcoat found herself rapidly racking up tickets for various offenses — jaywalking, trespassing near railroad tracks, not having a bike light. The fines piled up: $80, $110, $55. Homeless and without a job, Jeffcoat couldn't afford to pay the fines. When she arrived to a court in 2017, a judge added a $300 fee for failing to pay. Two years later, her debt to Orange County Superior Court had grown to about $800, after another late fee wa...