High Cost of Fines and Fees in the Juvenile Justice System

Posted by Juvenile Law Center on February 13, 2017

The High Cost of Fines and Fees in the Juvenile Justice System

Costs, fines, and fees in the juvenile justice system harm youth and their families.
They also undermine public safety and contribute to racial disparities in the justice system.

Approximately one million youth appear in juvenile court each year. In every state, youth and families face juvenile justice costs, fees, fines, or restitution. Youth who can’t afford to pay for their freedom often face serious consequences, including incarceration, extended probation, or denial of treatment—they are unfairly penalized for being poor and pulled deeper into the justice system. Many families either go into debt trying to pay these costs or must choose between paying for basic necessities, like groceries, and paying court costs and fees. Research shows that costs and fees actually increase recidivism and exacerbate economic and racial disparities in the juvenile justice system.

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