I would like to applaud Supervisor Kristin Gaspar for leading the effort to eliminate juvenile fees and debt in San Diego County.
Juvenile fees and debt are incurred by youth offenders as payment for their time in the juvenile justice system. Supervisor Gaspar explained, “As a county we continue to make meaningful investments to transform our juvenile justice system, yet for many families, they are still facing debt as a result of their child’s incarceration, legal representation, and community supervision.”
While it may make sense on its face to charge offenders for these fees, the reality is that it costs the county almost as much to collect the fees as they generate in revenue.
What’s also true is that juvenile debt can cripple youth offenders and their families. Individuals that made their way through the juvenile justice system already face significant burdens to getting their lives back on track. A young person with a record can face obstacles to employment, education, and even housing. Adding on large amounts of debt only serves the purpose of preventing that young person and their family from moving forward with their life.
Last week, the full board followed Supervisor Gaspar’s lead and eliminated juvenile debt and fees. As a result of that decision, many Escondido families have renewed hope that better days lie ahead.
RYAN GARDINER, Escondido