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Juvenile courts in Illinois collect thousands of dollars from youth and their families through fees and fines imposed by counties. At every point in the juvenile court system, a young person and their parents can be charged fees or costs for services and treatment, such as electronic ankle monitoring, detention, probation supervision, and public defender services. By charging fees and fines, the juvenile justice system undermines community health, economic stability, and trust in public systems.


Research shows that juvenile fees and fines perpetuate cycles of poverty and undermine the financial and emotional well-being of youth and their families. They disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and low-income families and net little or no revenue for the government entities that assess and collect them. Recognizing this, Illinois Senate Bill 3621 (SB 3621) seeks to prohibit courts, state agencies, and local government entities from assessing fees and fines in the juvenile court system and requires the discharge of all outstanding debt. All unpaid juvenile fees and fines would be considered null, void, and satisfied as a result of this bill. SB 3621 does NOT eliminate the assessment or collection of victims’ restitution.
 

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Frequently Asked Questions

For a complete list of fees and fines affected by SB 3621, please review this assessments chart and statutory index. Please note that SB 3621 does not affect restitution eligibility or obligations to pay.

Fees include administrative costs for probation services, public defender services, sheriff processing fees, DNA tests, treatment reimbursements, clerk fees, charges to parents for their children’s detention in juvenile hall, and other costs related to running juvenile courts and processing of cases.

Fines are financial penalties imposed on youth for certain infractions or crimes, including ordinary teenage behavior like staying out past curfew, underage drinking, or skipping school.

Costs is a miscellaneous term used throughout the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 to refer to fees, administrative costs, surcharges, penalties, and financial assessments. The bill will eliminate administrative costs categorized in the Illinois compiled statutes as fees, fines, and costs. 

Research shows that financial costs assessed against youth in the legal system cause financial and emotional burden on youth and their families. In addition to the burden on families, juvenile court fines and fees create bureaucratic waste in a regressive cycle that generates minimal revenue for counties. Young people who are in school and without employment have no means to pay these costs. By function of the law, this burden then falls on their parents or legal custodians, who are then forced to choose between putting food on the table or paying court debt. When youth are unable to pay off court debt, they and their parents may face civil judgments, wage garnishments, collections and additional fees. This debt can impact credit scores, making it difficult for youth to rent an apartment or buy a car to get to and from work or school as they are transitioning from adulthood.

Relevant research:

  • A 2017 study found that fees assessed against youth cause financial hardship to families, weaken family ties, and undermine family reunification.
  • A 2018 study found that fees assessed against youth had negative collateral impacts on families including loss of housing, lack of money to pay transportation costs, loss of utilities or other basic necessities.
  • A 2019 study found that fees assessed against youth strain family ties and can adversely affect mental and emotional health.

The intent and purpose of the bill is to eliminate fees and fines assessed against minors and their parents or legal custodians as authorized by the following statues:

  • Juvenile Court Act of 1987, 705 ILCS 405/1-1 et. seq.
  • Juvenile Drug Court Treatment Act, 705 ILCS 410/25 
  • Criminal Code, 720 ILCS 5/12C-60 
  • Unified Code of Corrections, 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5

Public data shows that juvenile fees and fines are not a significant source of revenue in Illinois:

  • In 90 counties for which we have data available, the average total amount of fees and fines collected annually statewide was $786,065.
  • Cook County does not assess fees, fines, or costs in juvenile court.
  • In fiscal year 2019, DuPage County, the second most populous county in Illinois, collected 70% of all juvenile fees and fines assessed, but the actual revenue amounted to only $25,215. 
  • In Lake County, the third most populous county in Illinois, the total revenue collected from juvenile fees and fines accounted for less than 0.02% of the county’s revenue in fiscal year 2019.
  • Given that juvenile case filings are less than 1% of all circuit court cases in Illinois, revenue collected from juvenile court charges is likely a small percentage of annual budgets for the counties.

There is minimal instructive value in further impoverishing low-income youth and families through fees and fines. The bill does not impact a judge’s ability to order victim’s restitution, community service, or other appropriate non-monetary conditions that are more youth centered and rehabilitative. Because most youth cannot afford to pay court-imposed fees and fines, their families get billed for the minor’s actions which only adds more stressors to an already vulnerable family. Rather than further youth rehabilitation, these fees and fines hinder family reunification and undermine family stability.  

Relevant research: 

  • A 2021 study demonstrated that non-criminal restorative justice community conferencing is more successful at rehabilitating youth rather than formal juvenile or criminal prosecution.
  • 2019 study explains how the practice of assessing fees and fines does not work at all; the practice does not generate revenue, it does not support public safety, and it does not further the goal of rehabilitation.
  • A 2017 study found a positive response from victims who participated in restorative justice programs, finding that non-delinquency programs brought more accountability to the youth-offender rather than formal prosecution. 

No. However, the bill does amend the Uniform Criminal Code, because several provisions in the Uniform Criminal Code authorize fees in cases adjudicated under the Juvenile Court Act. While the bill does not repeal traffic and municipal ordinance violations fees and fines in the UCC, the bill does repeal the following specific juvenile fees:

Community Service

730 ILCS 5/5-5-10 

Crime Lab 

730 ILCS 5/5-9-1.4(c) 

Crime Lab DUI 

730 ILCS 5/5-9-1.9(c)


 

No. In fact, studies show the opposite to be true: continuing to charge young people for court fees, fines, and costs results in greater risks to public safety.

Relevant research:

  • A 2016 study found that fees push youth deeper into the criminal system.
  • A related 2016 study found that the economic harm of juvenile monetary sanctions corresponds with increased recidivism.
  • A related 2021 study in Wisconsin found that fees and fines contributed to recidivism with defendants re-offending within one to two years of sentencing with harsh financial assessments.
     

Yes. SB 3621 does not impact provider fees that would typically be billed to public or private insurance.

SB 3621 only applies to fees and fines related to juvenile delinquency cases. Therefore, youth who have been transferred to adult court are still responsible for fees and fines. However, SB 3621 will eliminate custodial fees for youth in the custody of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ). Therefore, families of youth who have been transferred to adult court but remain in the custody of IDJJ are not responsible for child support fees and costs related to custody.
 

Contact

If you need more information on SB3621, please contact:

[email protected]