Juvenile Court Fees Burden Families, Provide Limited Revenue

Michigan Center for Youth Justice says court fines and fees for juveniles can be burdensome for families who are already facing financial hardship.

Juvenile court fees and fines are often devastating to families who may already be facing financial hardships.

The Michigan Center for Youth Justice says more than 140 organizations across the country are calling for a national moratorium on court fees and fines that impact young people. The request comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a process for families to waive fees, Jason Smith, Director of Youth Justice Policy at the center, says that information about applying isn’t always forthcoming. 

“Some families find that process confusing and end up having to pay the full brunt of the cost,” Smith says. 

What more, Smith says revenue from the fines and feeds end up being marginal when considering collection costs.  

“Unless they are aggressively collecting the fines and fees that they impose, [courts] end up not actually collecting as much revenue as the resources [used when attempting] to collect.”

Click on the player above to hear juvenile court fines and fees prop up an unequal system. 

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.