This session, Stand is advocating for restorative educational justice by urging lawmakers to build a debt-free youth justice system. One way to reduce the harmful impacts of juvenile legal system involvement on young people’s educational and life opportunities is to eliminate the ineffective and inefficient practice of imposing financial restitution in juvenile cases. That’s why, alongside our partners in the Debt Free Youth Justice Washington Coalition, we are advocating for the passage of Senate Bill 5474 and House Bill 1432.
Our coalition was thrilled to see this powerful and compelling article by Claudia Rowe, who spotlights the experience of one of our amazing coalition members, and outlines the overall impacts of a system that allows kids to be fined in ways that can create life-altering barriers. Claudia writes:
‘If we want young people who have committed crimes to change their lives and get on a better path, saddling them with an impossible debt only hinders that goal.’
Concluding that this only results in “a criminal justice system that provides very little justice — to anyone” this article is a powerful illustration of why we must replace inequitable, systemically flawed policies with community-based solutions that build pathways of opportunity and potential for young people.