This week House and Senate committees begin debating SB 2172/HB 2307, which would end the pervasive, regressive and discriminatory practice of charging fees and fines to families with youth in the justice system. Families can be charged individual fees and fines of up to $300 – with one family reporting being charged a total of over $3,000 – for expenses such as:
- Detention or placement
- Court-appointed legal representation
- Probation and supervision
- Diversion and treatment services
- Court proceedings
Fees and fines push youth deeper into the system, which disproportionately harms Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth, who are overrepresented at every stage of the justice system.
Low-income families, especially in rural Tennessee, can be forced to choose between paying fees and fines and meeting basic needs. Fees and fines impose long-lasting financial and emotional harm, limit families’ ability to invest in opportunities for their children, and are linked with higher recidivism rates.
There is widespread bipartisan support on the state and national level to end youth fees and fines. Please join with us and tell lawmakers to eliminate youth fines and fees as they are ineffective, costly and cause harm to youth, families, and the community.