COVID-19 has created an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, and families with youth in the juvenile legal system are among the most vulnerable.
In April 2020, the Policy Advocacy Clinic joined more than 130 racial, economic, and criminal justice organizations across the country and political spectrum to call for a nationwide moratorium on juvenile fees and fines.
State and local governments must take immediate action to mitigate harm and promote the economic resiliency of youth and families to weather the crisis.
“Research has consistently found that juvenile fees and fines are a regressive and racially discriminatory tax on low-income communities and communities of color, the very same communities who are being disproportionately devastated by the health and economic impacts of this pandemic.” —Clinical Teaching Fellow Devan Shea
Specifically, we call on states, counties, and courts to:
- Suspend assessment and collection of juvenile fees and fines.
- Suspend all attachments, garnishments, levies, liens, redirects, and tax refund intercepts for unpaid juvenile fees and fines.
- Suspend all interest accrual, financial penalties, and other legal system consequences for nonpayment or late payment of juvenile fees and fines, including enforcement of arrest warrants for failure to pay fines and fees.
- Suspend and withdraw all referrals of unpaid juvenile fine and fee accounts to state taxing and collection authorities and private collection agencies.
- Prohibit private agencies from collecting unpaid juvenile fees and fines.
- Work to make these law and policy changes permanent.
PAC joins 100+ groups calling on Senate to pass HEROES Act provisions protecting families from juvenile fees (May 2020)
- California Governor Signs Historic Bill Abolishing Unjust Criminal Fees, 9/21/20
- Orange County Ends Racialized Wealth Extraction ($18.5M) Amid COVID Crisis, 7/14/20
- Madera County Discharges >$1M in Juvenile Fees “to Foster Less Punitive System,” 7/7/20
- Humboldt County Places COVID-19 Moratorium on Juvenile Fee Collection, 6/15/20
- San Diego County Relieves 9,100 Families of Tens of Millions in Juvenile Fees, 5/19/20
- Stanislaus County (Modesto) Relieves Families of $6.9 Million in Juvenile Fees, 5/5/20
- Lake County Suspends Juvenile Fee Collection During COVID Pandemic, 4/28/20
- Riverside County Discharges $4.1 Million in Juvenile Fees to Relieve Families, 4/21/20
- Clinics Help Protect California Families From Debt Collection During COVID Crisis, 4/21/20
- California’s Franchise Tax Board Halts Debt Collection Including Fees and Fines, 3/27/20
- California Advocates Ask Gov. Newsom to Suspend Fees and Fines, 3/27/20
- California Advocates Ask Controller to Suspend Collection of Fees and Fines, 3/23/20
- Opinion: Criminal Justice Leaders Call for Moratorium on Fines, Fees, 4/7/20
- Criminal Justice Advocates Call for Pause of Court Costs During COVID-19 Outbreak, 4/6/20
- Colorado Lawmakers and Advocates Call for Statewide Moratorium on Criminal and Juvenile Fines, Fees, and Costs, 4/6/20
- Louisiana Chief Justice Urges Courts to Suspend Juvenile Fee Assessment and Collection During COVID-19, 9/17/20
- Rep. Duplessis Letter to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Calling for COVID-19 Emergency Fee Suspension, 8/3/20
- Louisiana Chief Justice Letter on Fines and Fees, 4/21/20
- ACLU Nevada: Don’t Neglect Nevada’s Incarcerated Youth in Covid-19 Response, 3/26/20
- Nevada Advocates Request Immediate Action to Address COVID-19 in Nevada’s Juvenile Detention and Commitment Facilities, 3/25/20
- Request to Nevada Officials to Implement Assembly Bill 439 (2019, Repealing Juvenile Fees) and End All Fee Collection, 3/11/20
- New Jersey Supreme Court Waives Juvenile Fine Debt, 10/20/20
- New Jersey Accelerates Abolition of Juvenile Fines in Response to COVID-19 Crisis, 7/1/20
- Order by Benton County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Authorizes Waiver or Suspension of Fines, Fees, and Costs, 4/13/20
- Benton County Circuit Court Provides for Reduced or Suspended Fines, 4/13/20
- Oregon Law Center: Relieve the Hardest Hit of Court-Imposed Fines and Fees, 4/7/20
- Oregon State Courts Ease the Burden of State Court Fines, Fees, and Collections During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 4/3/20
- Oregon Chief Justice Order 20-010 Temporarily Authorizing Waiver or Suspension of the Collection Fees, 3/27/20
- Oregon Amended Chief Justice Order 20-006 Encouraging Courts to Waive or Suspend Fees, 3/27/20
- Fines and Fees Justice Center: COVID-19 Policy Recommendations and Policy Tracker
- National Consumer Law Center: Coronavirus Emergency: Criminal Justice Debt – How States Can Help
- The Appeal: The Coronavirus Response: Spotlight on State & Local Governments
- The Justice Collaborative: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response & Resources
- Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice: Recommendations for Youth Justice Systems During the COVID-19 Emergency
- National Juvenile Justice Network: Resources Compiled Regarding COVID-19 and Vulnerable Populations
For questions, suggestions, or requests for technical assistance, please contact Clinical Teaching Fellow Devan Shea.