Coral Springs, Florida – Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book with a bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers, filed legislation this week to eliminate costly court fees charged to juveniles.
Regardless of their guilt, innocence, or ability to pay Currently, Florida charges children and their families a wide range of fees and costs for their involvement in the criminal justice system.
Among the costs assessed to kids: court administration fees, public defender fees, medical care costs, probation supervision fees, costs of detention, and various surcharges.
According to The Debt-Free Justice for Children Act, filed in the Florida House and Senate (HB 257 and SB 428), would eliminate all fees and costs currently imposed on children up to age 18 and their families. The law would also vacate outstanding fee orders, vacate any related debt and reinstate driving privileges for those who lost them for failure to pay.
According to Book, “Parents are often forced to make an impossible choice: put food on the table or pay down court debt”.
Young people who owe court debts have higher recidivism rates and stay on probation longer than those who do not owe court debts, the legislators said. The legislators said that such children could not expunge their records, obtain driver’s licenses, or participate in job corps programs.
In 2021, several U.S. states passed reforms to end fees assessed to juveniles and their families.