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July 7, 2022

Eliminating Youth Fines and Fees Relieves Black Youth and their Families from Undue Burden

Virginia can be a place where every young person has the support and resources to reach their full potential and the help to get back on the right track when they get into trouble. Unfortunately, Virginia’s youth court system frequently imposes fines and fees on young people who interact with the court system and their families, placing additional barriers in their path. Today, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis released a new brief analyzing the economic and social impacts of fines and fees on Black and Brown teenagers, highlighting the pressing challenges these children and their families can face and offering alternative measures that could better help youth who encounter the juvenile justice system. 

“Court imposed fines and fees place financial and social harm on Black teenagers and their families,” says Briana Jones, Research Assistant at The Commonwealth Institute and one of the report authors. “Eliminating them can go a long way in providing meaningful justice for young people and communities.”

Key findings include:

  • Black young people are referred to the juvenile justice system by law enforcement at 2.6 times the rate of white young people.
  • Fines and forfeitures typically make up less than 0.5% of revenue for Virginia counties and cities, with only five of the state’s 133 localities receiving more than 2% of their total revenue from fines and forfeitures.
  • Court fines and fees not only cause financial burden, but they can also alter family dynamics and heightens tensions within familial relationships.
The Commonwealth Institute

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