Every year, courts and state agencies charge young people in the juvenile legal system millions of dollars in fines, fees, and taxes. For a family struggling to make ends meet, that can mean choosing between paying court fees or putting food on the table. These fees disproportionately harm low-income Black people, trapping families in poverty and making it more likely that children will end up back in the system. Not even the courts benefit: many jurisdictions spend more on charging fines than they are able to collect in return.
In 2021, parents and advocates successfully fought to get rid of juvenile fees in Louisiana, becoming one of the first Southern states to do so. While Act 123 does not end all types of charges, it will prevent many families from going into thousands of dollars of debt. We are proud to have partnered with Rep. Royce Duplessis, the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, Stand for Children, and the national #DebtFreeJustice campaign to make this win possible.
Act 123 took effect on July 1, 2021, but our work continues. Ubuntu is making sure the law is implemented in every area of the state and continuing the fight for true #DebtFreeJustice in Louisiana.
If your child is involved in the juvenile court system, click here to learn about your rights and what to do if you are charged illegal fees.