'Drowning' from Fines: Juveniles Also Deserve High Court Protections from Justice System Fees

Jessica Feierman, Clarise McCants, USA Today •

The Supreme Court unanimously held last week that the constitutional right to be free of excessive fines applies to the states. While the case addressed fees, fines and civil asset forfeiture among adults, it also has significant implications for youth in the juvenile justice system. 

Across the country, youth — particularly black and brown youth — are doubly punished with court and justice related fines and fees in addition to involvement in the juvenile justice system. Youth and families who cannot pay the fees face extended probation, denial of services and sometimes even incarceration. Families go into debt or may have to choose between paying court fees or paying for groceries.

It’s time to eliminate juvenile fines and fees, and the court's ruling gives us a new opportunity to challenge their constitutionality.

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