National Center for Youth Law

Press Releases

National Debt Free Justice Campaign Launches to End Juvenile Fees and Fines
Advocacy organizations join forces to abolish the harmful practice nationwide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2021

Contact: Willis Jacobson, wjacobson@youthlaw.org

Today, a coalition of organizations announced the formal launch of a national campaign – Debt Free Justice – dedicated to abolishing the harmful practice of saddling youth and families with fees and fines. With the unveiling of a website, the groups are encouraging lawmakers and advocates across the country to join the fight against these regressive fees which push youth and their families deeper into poverty – and which disproportionately impact communities of color.

“The Debt Free Justice campaign unites advocates, activists, policy makers, and others around the country that are working to eliminate fees and fines from being imposed on youth in the justice system” said Nadia Mozaffar, one of the Campaign’s coordinators. “The campaign website will serve as a centralized hub that can support this advocacy effort.”

The website features tools, sample legislation, framing of the issue, and ways to get involved. Additionally, it will serve to educate policymakers and provide them with a road map for ending this punitive practice in their own jurisdictions. When youth are involved in the justice system, they can be charged thousands of dollars in fees and fines

“The launch of this campaign is right on time because these fees and fines are devastating to families and communities,” said Michael Harris, one of the Campaign’s coordinators.

In the last few years, a groundswell of support has grown in states to abolish the harmful practice of assessing fees to young people involved in the juvenile system. Just this year, Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado, and Texas have reduced or eliminated fees and fines charged to youth.

“We are excited to support local and state campaigns across the country to provide relief to young people and their families from these burdensome and racially discriminatory fees and fines” said Stephanie Campos-Bui, one of the Campaign’s coordinators. “We hope to continue building momentum for abolishing this practice and to ensure debt free justice for all youth no matter what state they live in.”

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Debt Free Justice is a national campaign dedicated to ending the harmful and unjust fees and fines imposed on youth in the justice system and their families. Learn more: www.debtfreejustice.org