County suspends fees on families of youth involved in the justice system
I'm happy to say that last week, Contra Costa County placed a moratorium on its practice of charging daily fees to the parents of youth detained in Juvenile Hall and on electronic monitoring.
These fees have had a disproportionate impact on lower-income families of color since the majority of youth in our justice system are African-American and Latino. More than 11,000 families with outstanding charges will be relieved of this burden.
Contra Costa County joins Alameda and Santa Clara counties which also recently declared a moratorium on these fees.
The purpose of our juvenile justice system is to promote public safety by rehabilitating young people through training and treatment. This fee was counterproductive to this purpose and placed a financial burden on many families struggling to maintain their economic and social stability. The revenues collected from these fees were minimal and instead caused harm to families.
I brought this issue to our Board's Public Protection Committee after touring our Juvenile Hall in Martinez several months ago and speaking with our County's Chief Probation Officer. I advocated for eliminating these fees when we considered the issue at our September committee meeting.
A number of groups including UC Berkeley Law School's Policy Advocacy Clinic and Reentry Solutions Group provided invaluable analysis and input to our Board. I'm proud of our Board's unanimous vote to suspend this fee. As our Board continues to further study this fee issue, I intend to work to have these fees be permanently abolished.
We need to help youth towards a positive path forward, not burden their families.