The Price of Justice: The High Cost of “Free” Counsel for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

July 25, 2018
By Jessica Feierman, Nadia Mozaffar, Naomi Goldstein, and Emily Haney-Caron, Juvenile Law Center

This report analyzes statutes regarding the cost of court-appointed counsel in each state, including fees for public defenders. The report is also based on a survey of 153 individuals—including attorneys for youth and other professionals and stakeholders—and includes comments from attorneys who further explain the impact of these policies on youth and their families. The report reveals that laws and policies across the country permit or require youth and their families to pay for the cost of court-appointed counsel, including public defenders; that courts regularly impose such costs; and that the financial obligations lead to troubling consequences for youth and families.