Bill Lowers Court Costs for Justice-Involved Youth

Oklahoma House of Representatives - May 18, 2022 6:22 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to significantly reduce court costs assessed to children in Oklahoma’s juvenile justice system has become law after being signed by the Governor Monday.

House Bill 3205, authored by Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, lowers court costs, including counsel fees, diversion fees, and probation or supervision fees, for children involved in the juvenile justice system.

Talley, who has worked with youth for 30 years and leads prison ministry with inmates, said these court fees create significant financial burdens for low-income families because the fees are often paid by the parents, not the juvenile.

“These fees can be a big hindrance to people coming out of the justice system who want to move on with their lives,” Talley said. “When justice-involved youth face huge court costs, it not only impacts them but their siblings and other family members as well. I’ve known kids who returned to crime to try to pay for previous crimes, and we want to stop that cycle. I’m glad the Governor saw the value of this legislation and gave his support to help these families.”

HB3205 was carried in the Senate by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan.

“A major part of our state’s criminal justice reform efforts has been working to get rid of burdensome court fees and costs that are hurting Oklahoma families,” Garvin said. “This is especially true for juvenile offenders who typically don’t have jobs, unfairly leaving their parents or legal guardians responsible for the debt. We worked with law enforcement, district attorneys and others on this legislation to move our courts away from a fee-supported system to an appropriated one that doesn’t cripple people with debt.”

The bill does not eliminate or reduce restitution to compensate victims, nor does it reduce the criminal penalties for any offenses.

 

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