The Supreme Court Can Put a Stop to Excessive Fines on Children

Jessica Feierman, The Progressive •

When Shyara Hill of Philadelphia was 16 years old, she was arrested in school after defending her little brother from a bully. Three years later, she still couldn’t close her juvenile justice case because, having just started her very first job the previous week, she didn’t have the $420 in fees that the court required. For that reason only, she remained on probation for another year.

In Arkansas, a 13-year-old boy we at Juvenile Law Center interviewed, who asked that his name not be used, spent three months in a locked juvenile facility – including time in solitary confinement – because he could not pay a $500 fine for skipping school. He wasn’t represented by a lawyer in court, and he didn’t argue for any other outcome because he knew that neither he nor his mother could afford the fine.

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.