A new national report on juvenile courts and the fees they impose on kids is getting lots of attention in the media Thursday, including in The New York Times.
The 40-page report from the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center highlights the financial trap kids can fall into when they enter the juvenile justice system, becoming subject to fines and fees that can balloon with time. Not surprisingly, this system hits poor families the hardest, creating sometimes devastating consequences for kids who are busted even for minor infractions.
Oregon stands out in the report as one of seven states that allow juvenile courts to impose fees in seven different categories—the highest in the country.
"Across the country, the inability to make these payments subjects youth and families to possible incarceration, suspension of driver's licenses, an inability to expunge or seal records, and economic and social stress, among other consequences," the report reads.
In Oregon, as in several other states, youth who want to expunge or seal their records must first pay a fee.
"While many people assume that juvenile records are automatically sealed, expunged, or otherwise protected, that is generally not the case," the report reads. "Rather, in most states, youth need to petition the court to seal or expunge their records. For the many youth who need an attorney's help with the complicated task of filing a petition, expungement may often be unaffordable."