Dear Representatives Weissman, Tipper, Bacon, Benavidez, Bockenfeld, Carver, Daugherty, Luck, Lynch, Roberts, and Woodrow:
We write as organizations across the political spectrum to urge you to vote YES on House Bill 1315 (Herod) to end the assessment and collection of juvenile fees and costs in Colorado.
Juvenile fees and costs – monetary sanctions imposed on youth and families to generate government revenue – are a regressive tax on vulnerable Coloradans. These fees include charges for public defender applications, genetic testing, restorative justice programs, miscellaneous court costs, late payment fees, and more, and come with harsh penalties and other negative consequences for nonpayment.
Studies show that juvenile fees create additional barriers for youth and families, often trapping them in cycles of debt and court involvement. Further, juvenile fees are linked to higher recidivism rates and lower levels of positive social spending, undermining community safety and youth rehabilitation.
Research consistently shows that jurisdictions tend to generate little to no net revenue from juvenile fees, which they collect at low rates with high costs. Still, relying on system-involved youth and families to generate potential government revenue creates a perverse incentive to entangle youth in the system. By ending juvenile fees that only push youth deeper into the system, Colorado could see long-term fiscal savings.
Ending juvenile fees is a common-sense juvenile justice reform with bipartisan support in Colorado and nationally. We respectfully urge you to vote YES on H.B. 1315.
Tristan Gorman, Legislative Policy
Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
Jason Pye, Director, Rule of Law
Due Process Institute
William R. Maurer, Senior Attorney
Institute for Justice
Lauren Krisai, Senior Policy Analyst
Justice Action Network
Jessica Feierman, Senior Managing Director
Juvenile Law Center
Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Ronal Serpas, Executive Director
Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration
Michael Harris, Senior Director for Juvenile Justice and Legal Advocacy
National Center for Youth Law
Mary Ann Scali. Executive Director
National Juvenile Defender Center
Marc Hyden, Director, State Government Affairs
R Street Institute
Brett Tolman, Executive Director
Right on Crime
John Koufos, Executive Director
Safe Streets & Second Chances