Suspending Fees for System-Involved Youth

What is this letter about?

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. Low-wage, hourly, and gig workers are losing income or risking their health working in close proximity to others. More and more families are struggling to pay rent, keep the lights on, feed their children, and get medical care in the midst of widespread fear and uncertainty. Families with youth in the juvenile legal system are among the most vulnerable during this crisis.

This letter calls on state and local officials to reduce harm to youth and families by suspending the assessment and collection of all juvenile system fees and fines for at least the duration of this public health and economic crisis, and includes general policy recommendations and specific action steps for decision-makers.

How does it align with yli’s values?

Juvenile fees and fines – monetary charges that courts and agencies impose on youth in the juvenile system and their families – are a regressive and racially discriminatory tax on low-income communities and communities of color, the same communities who are more likely to get sick, lose income, experience housing and food insecurity, and lack access to medical care during this crisis.

yli youth in Marin and Fresno have worked directly on this issue, successfully advocating to pass key local and statewide policies to reduce or eliminate juvenile fees. Marin’s Social Host Ordinance established a restorative justice process for youth as an alternative to incarceration, and Fresno’s Boys & Men of Color launched a campaign to ensure that SB 190 – a California law that repeals a slew of fees like registration, drug testing, legal representation, housing, ankle monitors, among other – was enforced in Fresno County.

What is yli doing about it?

We have just signed this open letter, crafted by Berkeley Law at UC Berkeley. And, we are voicing our support on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Who else has signed this letter?

Over 100 organizations across the nation have signed on.

Primary sponsors include:

Signatories in California include:

  • Adolescent Health Working Group
  • Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
  • Bay Area Community Resources
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
  • California Coalition for Women Prisoners
  • Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, Loyola Law School
  • Children’s Rights Clinic, Southwestern Law School
  • Community Works
  • Criminal Justice Clinic, UC Irvine School of Law
  • Drug Policy Alliance-CA
  • East Bay Community Law Center
  • Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
  • Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, UCLA School of Law
  • Just Cities
  • Justice Reinvest Coalition of Alameda County
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Legal Services for Prisoners with Children/All of Us or None
  • San Jose State University Record Clearance Project
  • Starting Over, Inc.
  • The Anti-Recidivism Coalition
  • The California Public Defender’s Association
  • The Green Life Earth Island Project
  • UCLA Prison Law and Policy Program
  • UCLA School of Law Criminal Justice Program
  • Western Center on Law & Poverty
  • Young Women’s Freedom Center
  • Youth Justice Coalition

Read the Letter Here