Our Impact

#DebtFreeJustice is calling on local, state, and federal policymakers to end juvenile fees and fines nationwide. To this end, we are committed to:

The Work We Do Together

As a national campaign, we are working together with our partners at the local, state, and federal levels through policy advocacy, litigation, and research.

Behind the Wins

Here are a few noteworthy details behind our success stories:

California

In 2009, the Youth Justice Coalition denounced the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s practice of billing families for their youth’s detention in juvenile hall. About a decade later, tens of thousands of California families were relieved of more than $360 million in juvenile fees, and no counties have reported making programmatic cuts or requesting backfill funding to compensate for lost revenues.

Louisiana

Local advocates, including Ubuntu Village NOLA and Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, shared the harmful effects of fees on youth and families. Their efforts led to Chief Judge Candice Bates-Anderson of the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court issuing a court resolution ending the charging and collection of all discretionary juvenile fees in 2018 and, three years later, the passage of statewide legislation abolishing all fees for youth in the state.

Maryland

The passage of Maryland’s bill eliminating all juvenile fees and fines was supported by intense lobbying efforts from youth advocates who lobbied in Annapolis, sharing stories of their experiences in the juvenile justice system and the consequences of having to pay fees and fines. After a visit to the capital, youth also did phone banking to ensure the bill’s passage.

“Nickel-and-diming New Mexico families doesn’t solve anything. On the contrary, it … serves only to entrap too many New Mexicans in the criminal justice system.”

—New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, whose state in 2021 eliminated all juvenile fees and fines