HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State lawmakers are hoping to keep young people out of the juvenile justice system.

A bipartisan bill was just introduced in the Senate to end juvenile fines.

Once you get into the juvenile justice system, it can be hard to get out.

“A lot of youth are being arrested in brought into the juvenile justice system for failure to pay magisterial district court fines for things like having tobacco in school or kind of underage alcohol possession,” said Malik Pickett, a staff lawyer with the Juvenile Law Center.

Those minor offenses can land kids in jail for not paying, averaging $173 dollars in fees and $76 in fines.

“We know that the research shows that fines and fees only help to increase recidivism because it puts youth into further economic distress,” Pickett said.

Pickett says it disproportionately affects kids of color.

“Youth are continuing to experience the effect of these fines and fees well into adulthood. Sometimes these fines and fees can be converted into a kind of civil judgments,” Pickett said. “And then these are things that kind of follow them all kinds of throughout their lives.”

That’s why Democratic State Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, along with Republican Sen. Gene Yaw are sponsoring a bill to end those fines and fees for juveniles.

“This bill will eliminate financial conditions for juveniles in the system as well as their families with one small exception which is restitution and payment of a county restitution fee. That’ll be $10,” Cappelletti said.

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Cappelletti says payments can be replaced with another programming that’s more impactful.

“This is the way to go to help ensure that juveniles who come in contact with the system are given the supports that they need, and also then able to make the changes that they need without being kept in,” Cappelletti said.

The senate judiciary committee held a hearing on the bill this week. Cappelletti hopes it gets to the floor for a vote soon.