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A Future Shouldn't be Fined

Work with our network of partners to end court fees and fines for all youth in the juvenile justice system.

The Cost of Juvenile Fees and Fines

Impacted individuals, their loved ones and, advocates speak about the debilitating effects of juvenile fees and fines.

The Problem

Youth and their families face substantial debt when they become involved with the court system.

These charges don't impose accountability. They represent an injustice that deepens existing racial and economic disparities, limits future potential, and undermines family stability. It is a compounding burden that pushes children deeper into the justice system, increasing the likelihood they will remain involved well into adulthood.

DebtFreeJustice organizes and supports state and local campaigns to help raise awareness and coordinate efforts to end this unfair practice.

Take Action! Together, we can make a difference.

Share Your Story

Have you or your family been personally affected by juvenile fees and fines? Share your story on how these financial penalties have impacted you.

Become An Advocate

Start or join a state advocacy campaign, or share information about your organization's efforts.

Contact Your Representatives

Voice your opinion and let your representatives know you want them to take action to abolish fees and fines imposed on youth.

Taking Action Across the Nation

We work at the local, state, and federal levels to abolish juvenile fees and fines through policy advocacy, litigation, and research, and by connecting a community of like-minded advocates. With wins in more than a dozen states, the campaign strives to eliminate this unfair and unjust practice nationwide. 

Our Approach: 

  • Ending—not mending—fees and fines
  • Centering racial justice
  • Building grassroots power

By the Numbers

$1,796

The average amount in administrative fees billed to a young person and their family in Dane County, Wisconsin, in 2018

4.6

The number of times Black youth are incarcerated compared with white youth. This disparity leads to Black youth and families paying more juvenile fees and fines than white youth.

$360 million

The amount of juvenile fees collectively owed by tens of thousands of California families before the state canceled the outstanding debt in 2020
Photo of Colorado’s capitol building

“Eliminating these fees would allow judges to stop acting as cashiers and instead focus on rehabilitating kids and making communities safer.”

—State Rep. Leslie Herod, sponsor of Colorado’s 2021 bill that abolished juvenile fees and discharged all outstanding fee debt

The campaign is managed by:

 

Berkeley logo
NYCL logo
Juvenile Law Center logo

 

With support from:

 

Arnold Ventures logo
Schusterman logo

Join the Campaign

Join our coalition, become an advocate, or use our resources to fight for every child's future across America or in your state.