Board to review detention fees

City News Service | 6/8/2018, midnight
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to review any legal barriers to ending the..
Janice Hahn

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to review any legal barriers to ending the collection of fees ordered years ago to cover the cost of juvenile detention.

The county ended the practice of charging families for housing their children in juvenile halls or camps nearly a decade ago, but kept collecting fees that were court-ordered prior to February 2009.

In January, California passed a law ending the assessment of juveniledetention fees state, but also failed to prohibit the collection of previously assessed fees.

Supervisor Hilda Solis said the practice hurts already vulnerable families.

“Collecting fees for our youth in juvenile detention undermines youthrehabilitation and public safety,” she said. “It also unnecessarilyincreases the financial insecurity of vulnerable families.”

Probation Chief Terri McDonald said the county collects an average of$9,000-$10,000 in fees each month from around 50 families, less than onepercent of the total $90 million owed to the county by more than 52,000families.

“Let’s stop collecting,” McDonald said. “There’s ample researchthat we’re collecting fees from vulnerable families that can ill afford (it).”

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion, said the feesdon’t positively affect recidivism.

“They did little to keep kids from re-offending and they only addedstrain to already struggling families,” Hahn said. “There is no good reasonto burden families with debts they have been unable to pay for nearly a decade.This is the right thing to do, and it is long overdue.”

A report is due back in 90 days, though McDonald, in response to aquery by Hahn about whether the county could just simply stop accepting themoney, said she would try to expedite the legal review.