Eliminating fees in the Alameda County juvenile justice system meaningfully reduced financial burdens on families


Prior to fee repeal in 2016, the average family was responsible for $3,000 of various fees assessed fees by Alameda County.

Parents and families are typically responsible for the financial responsibilities imposed on minors by the juvenile justice system. In 2018, California became the first state to repeal administrative fees in the juvenile justice system. Two years before the statewide repeal, Alameda County repealed its juvenile fees. This brief examines the impact of the 2016 repeal by comparing a cohort of youths under probation supervision before the repeal and a cohort of youths who were under probation supervision after the fee repeal. The study concluded that the repeal decreased the financial burden on families during their children’s probation and noted the fee repeal did not significantly increase the use of other monetary sanctions.

You can read the full text here.

Key Findings:

  • The likelihood of any monetary sanctions decreased by 22 percent after the repeal of sanctions in Alameda County.
  • Monetary sanctions fell from an average of $2,256 for the pre-repeal cohort to $673 for the post-repeal cohort.
  • After the repeal, the probability of having a fine imposed fell by eight percentage points, comparing the pre-repeal and post-repeal cohorts; this suggests that the juvenile justice system did not compensate for the removal of fees by imposing more fines.
Jaclyn E. Chambers, Karin D. Martin, and Jennifer l. Skeem
California Policy Lab