LA County supervisors vote to end collecting past juvenile detention fees

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Thursday, October 11, 2018
LA County to end collecting old juvenile detention fees
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Los Angeles County will no longer ask parents to pay for their children's old juvenile detention fees.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County will no longer ask parents to pay for their children's past juvenile detention fees.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis says the juvenile detention system had been doing more harm than good, leveling fees on the parents of troubled children stuck in the juvenile detention system.

"It's mostly impacting low-income, people of color, black and brown and others," Solis said. "We want to put our young people first and their families."

Solis said one way to improve conditions is for the probation department to stop charging parents a fee to house their children in the juvenile detention system.

Los Angeles County supervisors voted to scrap the fees nine years ago, but those saddled with the debt prior to that time were still ordered to pay -- until now.

Solis rallied the board to vote to stop collecting the fees for everyone, no matter how far back their debt goes.

"This was something that the board adopted in 2009. They stopped collecting on the debt, which is $89 million right now," Solis said. "We are not making a dent in terms of collection because these people can't pay."

Solis said a better option is to wipe off the debt.

Prior to 2009, the parent of a child housed in the juvenile hall system had to pay nearly $24 a day for their child to be housed there, and if their child was sent to a probation camp, it was nearly $12 a day.

"The amount that's charged could be crippling, it could be devastating," Solis said. "It could mean being homeless or being bankrupt, or losing your credit for your entire life."

Solis said she talked to a young man who was devastated when he learned that his detention in the juvenile justice system left his mother, who was a farm worker, financially impoverished.

"He didn't realize that he was creating this debt after he had gotten out of probation as a youth," Solis said. "Now they were collecting. They weren't collecting against him, they were collecting against his mom."