Last October, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 190 into law and, as a result, repealed county authority to assess and collect administrative fees against families of youth involved in the juvenile delinquency system. Although SB 190 became effective January 1, the legislation did not require the waiver or discharge of fees that were assessed previous to January 1.
Last week, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to correct this locally by waiving the collection of all outstanding juvenile fees previously assessed related to Juvenile Hall or any other youth detention facility costs, in addition to court-appointed legal representation costs, as of February 13, 2017.
The Supervisors made their decision in alignment with the legislature’s finding that administrative fees, related to detention, legal representation, electronic monitoring, probation or home supervision, and drug testing undermine both youth rehabilitation and public safety. The Board also concurred with the state’s assessment of how such outstanding debt increases the financial insecurity of vulnerable families and highlighted its direct correlation to higher rates of recidivism.
San Bernardino County Public Defender, Phyllis K. Morris, and San Bernardino’s Chief Probation Officer, Michelle Scray Brown, supported the proposal. Brown noted, “Discharging all outstanding juvenile fees will reduce collection costs and relieve vulnerable and indigent families of outstanding debt.” In materials presented to the Board, she noted how some of the outstanding debt dates as far back as 1988. The outstanding debt totals at least $8.4 million for court-appointed legal fees and $8.2 million for probation-related charges.
The county will now take the actions necessary to notify those impacted by the waiver and any additional steps necessary, including filing satisfaction of judgments or other required documents for any matters that have recorded judgments or equivalents. Further, the county will refund any payments received after February 13, 2018.