Cal State Document
In California, criminal offenders may have fines included in their penalties, and these may be enhanced by either special assessments or penalty assessments. These penalty assessments are based on the concept of an "abusers fee," in which those who break certain laws help finance programs related to decreasing those violations. For example, drug and alcohol offenses and domestic violence offenses are enhanced by special assessments on fines that directly fund county programs designed to prevent the violations. All other criminal offenses and traffic violations are subject to penalty assessments that are used to fund specific state programs.
The State Judicial Council is currently working with county courts to improve their offender debt collection procedures. According to survey comments received from county court clerks and county collection agencies, simplifying the distribution process by eliminating dedicated funds would also improve the collection process, because there would be fewer accounts to maintain and distribute.
California Research Bureau, "Who Pays For Penalty Assessment Programs in California?" (2006). California Agencies. Paper 317.