Courts Often Charge Juveniles to Exist Inside the Justice System
The U.S. Constitution affords all defendants (juveniles and adults) the right to counsel - if they cannot afford an attorney, the court must appoint one. And the presumption is that this counsel is to be free. But a report obtained by The Washington Post found that impoverished families are often required to pay for counsel even after a court deems them 'too poor to pay.'
"Children's access to justice shouldn't depend on their access to money," said Jessica Feierman, a co-author of 'The Price of Justice." " This creates a system for justice by income."
Feierman expressed concern that this practice prompts youth to plea out or go to court without counsel.
"This heightens their risk of being deprived of their liberty, separated from their families, and incarcerated," she said.