Policy reform involves a process of setting the scope of your reform effort, collecting data, making change, monitoring implementation, and sustaining momentum. You can find a collection of advocacy tools, policy examples, data, and other materials for use during each stage of your advocacy here.
Use the buttons to learn more about the policy reform process and how the materials on this page can assist you in your current juvenile fee reform efforts.
1. Setting the Scope of Your Reform Effort
Setting the scope of your reform effort is vital, and requires knowing what is happening on the ground as well as where to best target change efforts. What types of fees exist in your jurisdiction? What are the costs to youth and their families? What is the best way to go about raising awareness?
The link below leads to general information about fines, fees, and restitution; a list of basic questions to ask about the system in your jurisdiction; a primer on where fines are potentially applied in a typical juvenile system; a strategic communications guide; and links to legislative information on all fifty states.
2. Collecting Data
Depending on your jurisdiction, you may need to identify sources of publicly available data, find advocates who aggregate and organize that information, or collect public (but not publicly available) information yourself through public records requests. You may also want to generate your own data through interviews or surveys.
The data you collect is important for your own reform efforts, but also for the overall campaign to end juvenile fees. Not much attention has been paid to this issue in the past, so every effort made to collect relevant data or highlight narratives of those involved is a huge step forward.
The link below leads to a series of documents that exemplify how such relevant data and stories are collected and used; a sample public records request; and sample stakeholder interview questions to better understand practices in your jurisdiction.
3. Making Change
Change can be made in a number of ways and at a number of administrative levels. Depending on the facts on the ground and the political momentum in your jurisdiction, you may want to target the state legislature, county officials, or even court or probation leadership. For any reform effort the process entails analyzing the evidence you've collected, engaging stakeholders, formulating a multi-stage plan, and seeing the plan through.
The link below contains documents from the successful campaign to repeal juvenile fees in California; individual California county documents from counties that eliminated juvenile fees before the statewide law passed; editorials and op-eds relating to the campaign to end juvenile fees; and audio/visual materials surrounding the issue.
4. Monitoring Implementation
After change happens, either at the state or county level, it can take time to reach the impacted people. Sometimes, change addresses only a portion of the problem, and sometimes it creates new unforeseen problems. In either case, monitoring and continued advocacy is crucial to achieving the desired outcomes.
The link below contains example documents from the efforts to monitor implementation of fee reform in California.
5. Sustaining Momentum
The campaign to end juvenile fees is long term and nationwide. Even after successful reform, work remains to be done. Each win, large or small, has the potential to serve as a positive example for efforts in other jurisdictions. Because this issue has not previously received much attention, advocates can shift the entire conversation nationwide through their policy wins. By employing strategic communications, individual reform efforts can reinforce a greater campaign and the campaign can reinforce individual reform efforts.
A strategic communication guide and materials to help develop messaging strategy are forthcoming. Stay tuned.