The Juvenile Justice System Is Stacked Against Poor Families

Juliene James and Susan Mangold, The Washington Post •

Navigating the juvenile justice system can be daunting for any family. After absorbing the shock of a child’s arrest, families often face an intricate, pernicious economy of fines and fees, all while making critical decisions about their child’s case. And if a juvenile defendant’s family can’t afford the fees, they may pay a far steeper price: loss of freedom until the debt is settled.

State and local governments have started to recognize the harmful effects of court-related fees, including in California, where lawmakers have banned juvenile justice fees altogether. But little attention has been paid to another form of financial exploitation: fees and reimbursements for court-appointed lawyers.