No more juvenile fees in Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - No more fees for families of youth in the juvenile justice system in Monterey County. Although county officials say the change is a positive thing, it will cost them.

A state law will take away a county's authority to charge those fees on January 1, 2018 but the county board of supervisors voted to make it effective three weeks earlier.

It's a move they hope will not only take financial strain off of families but keep youth out of the criminal justice system.

Charges like a trip to juvenile hall cost 29 dollars a day and an ankle bracelet cost more than $100 with a $14 dollar a day charge.

"When you talk about numerous days and weeks and months going by, that bill could add up to thousand of dollars for a local family," said Monterey County supervisor Luis Alejo, "That was having a major economic hardship on the families."

Local organization "Partners for Peace" provide education courses to some families who face those fees.

"Many caregivers and parents who attend that course do cite the financial stress due to the legal fees and finding babysitters when they go to court etcetera," Vicki Law, program director with Partners For Peace said. 

Supervisor Luis Alejo says those fees cause more than just financial hardships. According to research presented to the state and county, the fees can lead to your re-offending.

"It was always easier to think about 'we should lock them up and charge fees' and be really punitive in terms of how we deal with young offenders but the doesn't show that, it shows quite the opposite," Alejo said.

The move to eliminate those fees will come at a cost to the county.

"The cost is probably going to be about $150,000 a year so it is significant, it's something that we're going to have to factor in with our budget for probation," Alejo said.

Partners For Peace hopes the county's loss will pay off for Central Coast families.

"They would have more disposable income to put back into the family and we really believe that families are the heart of the community," Law said.

Families who owed the county money for fees have also had their debt erased. Not all fees have been eliminated though, restitution fees will still need to be paid.

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