In the wake of a report showing how juvenile court fines, fees, and restitution often serve as insurmountable hurdles for youthful offenders, the Allegheny County Controller’s Office has announced that it will be using a grant to help some with outstanding obligations have those balances cleared.
Under the new grant program, the Allegheny County Office of the Public Defender will establish the criteria by which grant recipients will be selected.
The Juvenile Law Center recently released its “Reimagining Restitution: New Approaches to Support Youth and Communities” report. In the report, the JLC revealed how restitution and fines are issued in cases where the juvenile offender is unlikely to have the ability to pay. When the payments aren’t made, offenders risk violating the terms of their supervision.
Notably, in Pennsylvania, a youthful offender must pay their restitution, fines, and fees before they are eligible to have their juvenile records expunged. This has created a pattern where wealthier juveniles are able to tap into their family resources and get a fresh start while less well-off juveniles are left with the financial burden and the issues that come with having a juvenile record. The $50,000 grant that the Allegheny County controller is allocating to the project is a first step towards helping people with juvenile records in the Pittsburgh area get a fresh start.