Five Key Findings About Restitution in the Juvenile Justice System

Lindsey E. Smith & Nadia Mozaffar, American Bar Association •
two children behind iron bars in prison with low light

 Juvenile Law Center is proud to share a recent publication from Lindsey E. Smith & Nadia Mozaffar regarding the harms of restitution. We are proud to be a leader in the Debt Free Justice campaign and staunchly support the end of court fines, fees, and restitution for all youth.

"As leaders on the national Debt Free Justice campaign, we’ve seen a sea change in recent years around financial punishments for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Advocates and lawmakers across the country are realizing what youth and families have long known: Ordering kids to pay money doesn’t work. In fact, 15 states have already passed laws that eliminate some or all juvenile system fines and fees.

Yet one type of financial punishment is often left behind: restitution. Intended to make a victim whole from harm caused by a young person, restitution carries with it a host of negative impacts in practice—including low victim satisfaction. In our new report, Reimagining Restitution: New Approaches for Youth and Communities [PDF], we examine these problems as well as alternatives that communities are building that are more humane, restorative, and that prevent unnecessary justice system involvement for young people."

Read the full article!

About the Expert

Nadia Mozaffar is a Senior Attorney at Juvenile Law Center. Her work focuses on advancing educational rights and opportunities for children in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, economic justice issues, and protecting the rights of young people in the adult justice system.

Lindsey E. Smith works in partnership with advocates across the country to fight poverty punishments imposed on young people and families as part of the national Debt Free Justice campaign. Since joining Juvenile Law Center in 2020, she has written appellate briefs, developed and conducted trainings for in-court advocacy, and co-authored the recent report Reimagining Restitution: New Approaches to Support Youth and Communities.