The Stand team is spending the last few days of summer preparing for an upcoming hearing of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Statutory Court Fee Task Force. We plan to comment on their latest work, and I hope you’ll join us by lending your voice to this cause.

We told you earlier this year about the problem with juvenile court fees and fines, a deep economic injustice. These fees and fines vary across Illinois counties, creating a patchwork of injustice that falls especially hard on low-income youth and families. Fees can range from DNA identification ($250 per test), probation supervision (usually $50 per month), and room and board while a child is held in detention ($10 per day). They can add up in a hurry and saddle children and their families with debt, further delaying plans like college and career.

The good news is that the Supreme Court Task Force sees the injustice of these fees and fines and recommends that “legislation be enacted abolishing assessments and fines in juvenile delinquency cases.”

We wholeheartedly agree and will provide testimony in support of eliminating juvenile court fees and fines. Stand with us and voice your support for the abolition of these fees and fines!

Ultimately, juvenile fees and fines undermine community health, economic stability, and trust in our courts. That’s why numerous states and local jurisdictions – both majority Democratic and Republican – have reduced or eliminated juvenile fees and fines in recent years. We must do better for Illinois youth and their families.

Thank you for standing with Illinois children and their families against this economic injustice. We’ll be in touch again before the hearing and follow-up with additional ways to engage on this issue.

Governor Pritzker signed the budget this week, securing another $350 million for Evidence-Based Funding! Legislators adjourned early in the morning just under two weeks ago, bringing the spring 2022 legislative session to a close. Here’s a quick wrap-up on our priority issues and some next steps.

Expanding Access to Dual Credit: Both the Illinois House and Senate unanimously passed a bill to boost access to Dual Credit courses and give districts flexibility to launch and grow their own Dual Credit programs. If you haven’t already, take a moment to thank the legislators who led the way in the General Assembly.

Improving Literacy Outcomes: We’re collaborating with education advocates and our fellow members of the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition to improve the Right to Read Act so that it works for all students. We’ll be convening this summer with experts and leaders in the literacy field to ensure the bill is as strong as possible, with the goal of passing it later this year or next spring.

Growing CTE Collaboration and Access: House lawmakers approved a Resolution make access more equitable to Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses and to facilitate the partnerships needed for successful CTE programs to flourish. Join me and thank the lawmakers who made this House Resolution a priority.

Enacting Economic Security: In the fight for racial justice, Stand joined the Coalition to Make EIC Work, a group of dedicated organizations and advocates that fought to expand the Earned Income Credit. Lawmakers enacted a budget including a permanent expansion of the EIC, providing direct tax relief to more than 4.5 million working Illinois families. The Coalition will continue fighting to create a permanent Child Tax Credit.

Fighting for Youth Justice: The work with our partners in the Debt Free Justice Campaign continues as we grow our coalition and refine the bill to help make the most impact for Illinois youth and their families by eliminating juvenile court fees and fines. We know that creating a brighter future for us all includes ensuring our juvenile court system is just and fair for everyone, and aimed towards healing, youth development, and reducing recidivism.

Thank you for everything you did this spring to help ensure positive results for Illinois children and families. The work continues, and I know you’ll be there as we take those next steps soon.

Creating a brighter future for us all includes ensuring our youth court system is just and fair to everyone involved. And ensuring that it’s aimed toward healing, youth development, and reducing recidivism.

But did you know that when juveniles enter Illinois’ youth justice system, they can be charged for things like legal representation, room and board, or even their own probation supervision? These fees and fines range from $25 to over $800 and can quickly add up to thousands of dollars for a single family.

Enforcement of these fines and fees varies across Illinois counties, creating a patchwork of injustice that falls particularly hard on low-income youth and families. And because of targeted policing and over-surveillance of communities of color, these fees and fines disproportionately hurt youth of color and their families in these areas.

The injustice is compounded because the costs of collecting fees and fines often outweighs the revenue they generate. For example, jurisdictions in Louisiana were spending up to $1.15 for each dollar they collected, while Oregon spent $866,000 to collect $864,000 in support fees for youth in custody in 2019. This bloated practice likely holds true here in Illinois.

We can and must do better for Illinois youth and their families. We should join the movement of states across the country – both majority Democratic and Republican – that have begun to reduce or abolish juvenile court fees and fines.

You can show your support for this movement – today – by signing the petition to put an end to juvenile court fees and fines here in Illinois.

We’ll be in touch with more ways to stay active on this issue soon. Thanks for your engagement and commitment to a brighter future for us all.

P.S.: Did a juvenile court order you to pay fees or fines (regardless of whether you were convicted) when it was processing your case? Did this happen to your friend or family member? Victims absolutely should receive restitution, but our taxpayer-funded court system should not make youth pay for their public defenders or court processing fees. Contact us to share your story. Your voice could help fix this unjust practice.