In most California counties, if a kid gets arrested and locked up, his or her parents often get charged for some of the costs of incarceration. These fees can run up to $30 a day for juvenile hall and $17 a day for ankle-monitoring.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) has introduced SB 190, a bill that aims to end these juvenile fees statewide. Research shows that poor kids and kids of color are more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system, so Mitchell says these fees are often charged to families who can least afford them.
"What we walked away with was that it was more onerous and more difficult on the families being subjected to the fees, versus beneficial really in any meaningful way to the counties or the probation departments," Mitchell says.
In addition, Mitchell points out that the way the fees are collected is also unfair and sometimes unlawful.
For example, in Contra Costa County an internal review going back four years found more than 200 cases where it improperly charged families. Parents ended up being billed even when there had been no sustained petition in their kids' cases. That means basically the children had been found innocent, but the families still got charged.