The Change Needed to Stop Saddling Young Black and Brown People with Massive Debt

In addition to being sentenced to juvenile hall, many young people are ordered by the court to pay money—otherwise known as restitution. Hefty restitution orders are common and saddle young people and their families with crushing debt, while failing to provide the intended relief to survivors. Restitution also makes it harder for overpoliced communities to break free from the carceral system. If a family cannot pay, parents can be subjected to wage garnishment, tax refund interceptions and property liens—threatening the financial stability of the entire family.

California’s youth restitution system is in dire need of re-imagination so that it can be functional and effective. The REPAIR Act, authored by Assemblymember Mia Bonta and backed by Debt Free Justice California, does this by placing crime survivors on a secure pathway to receive accessible and timely funds through a newly formed fund.