Dear Chairs Johnson, Steiner Hayward, and Rayfield, and Vice-Chairs Girod, Gomberg, and Smith:

As national organizations across the political spectrum, we urge you to support passage of Senate Bill 817 (SB 817) this session by quickly moving the bill out of the Ways and Means Committee.

Juvenile fees and fines – costs and monetary sanctions imposed on youth and families for the youth’s involvement in the juvenile delinquency system – operate in part as a regressive tax on vulnerable Oregonians. Youth and their families are charged a range of fees, including for youth detention, probation supervision, and electronic monitoring. These charges come with harsh
penalties and many negative consequences for nonpayment.

States from every region of the country are taking action to eliminate juvenile fees and fines. This year, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia have already passed legislation to reduce or eliminate fees and fines, following in the footsteps of California, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Utah, and Washington. Oregon has the opportunity to lead on this
common-sense, bipartisan reform that will help youth and families by passing SB 817.

Studies show that juvenile fees and fines create barriers for youth and families, trapping them in cycles of debt and court involvement. Further, fees and fines are linked to higher recidivism rates and lower positive social spending, undermining community safety and rehabilitation.

Jurisdictions consistently generate little to no net revenue from juvenile fees and fines, collecting them at low rates with high costs. Still, relying on system-involved youth and families to generate revenue creates a perverse incentive to entangle youth in the system. SB 817 would reduce the financial and bureaucratic burden on the agencies administering these programs while helping families. By ending juvenile fees and fines that only push youth deeper into the system, Oregon could see long-term fiscal savings.

Ending juvenile fees and fines is common-sense reform with bipartisan support, in Oregon and nationally. We respectfully urge you to act today to ensure passage of SB 817.

Sincerely,
Amy Miller, Executive Director
Youth, Rights & Justice

Shana O’Toole, Founder & Director
Due Process Institute

Lisa Foster & Joanna Weiss, Co-Directors
Fines and Fees Justice Center

Carl Filler, State 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 & 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

Stephanie Campos-Bui, Deputy Director
UC Berkeley Policy Advocacy Clinic

Steven Greenhut, Western Region Director
R Street Institute