States Must Abolish Juvenile Fees. They’re Putting Families in Debt.

Jeffrey Selbin, Jessica Feierman, The Washington Post •

Almost every state authorizes courts and agencies to charge children and their parents and guardians for youth detention, supervision and electronic monitoring. Many jurisdictions even charge families for their children’s “free” public defenders. The fees can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.

These fees have nothing to do with theories of punishment or accountability, which are accomplished through other mechanisms in the system. Instead, they are misguided attempts to replace tax revenue with “user fees” in the justice system.

About the Expert

Jessica Feierman oversees Juvenile Law Center’s projects and programs. Feierman currently leads a national effort to end fines and fees in the juvenile justice system and is engaged in litigation aimed at eliminating solitary confinement and other abusive practices in juvenile facilities.