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Press Release: Youth, Rights & Justice Urges Governor Brown to Quickly Sign Landmark Bill Eliminating Juvenile Fees and Fines in Oregon

Salem, OR (6/28/21) – Last week, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 817 (SB 817), a major bipartisan reform bill that will help thousands of Oregonians by eliminating fees and fines charged to young people in the juvenile system and relieving vulnerable youth and families of tens of millions of dollars in outstanding debt.

Senator James I. Manning Jr. (D-Eugene) and Representative Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) introduced SB 817, which was championed by Youth, Rights & Justice and supported by groups including Our Children Oregon, Stand for Children Oregon, and the Oregon Justice Resource Center’s Youth Justice Project. Local and national groups across the political spectrum supported the bill, including the Justice Action Network.

“I am proud to have worked with a strong coalition of state agencies, non-profit organizations, and other key stakeholders who came together to end these harmful fees and realize this important step forward for Oregon youth and families,” said Representative Sollman.

Current state law authorizes courts, probation departments, and the Oregon Youth Authority to charge administrative fees to children in the juvenile system and their parents. “I know from personal experience that eliminating juvenile fees and fines will lift a mental and emotional burden on families in Oregon. We don’t need to push kids and families further into the system, we need to help them do well,” said Siobhan Cancél, Volunteer Leader of the Lane County Chapter of Stand for Children Oregon.

Research shows that fines and fees strain family relationships, fall disproportionately on youth of color, and increase recidivism. Karen Cain, who was charged high fees for her son’s commitment to the Oregon Youth Authority, added, “My family had to deal with these fees for nearly 20 years. I’m so relieved that no one else will have to experience that financial and emotional distress.”

“Eliminating juvenile fees and fines will help youth and their families find financial stability,” said Amy Miller, Executive Director of Youth, Rights & Justice. “We thank Rep. Sollman and Sen. Manning for their support and urge Governor Brown to sign the bill.”

If Governor Brown signs SB 817, Oregon will become the sixth state this year and the twelfth state overall to reduce or eliminate juvenile fees as part of a growing movement across the country. Legislative efforts in Oregon and elsewhere are supported by the Campaign for Debt Free Justice, a national initiative to abolish fees and fines imposed on youth and their families.