Contra Costa eliminates collect calling for youth at juvenile halls

Contra Costa eliminates collect calling for youth at Juvenile Hall
John A. Davis Juvenile Hall in Martinez (Photo courtesy of the County).

The Contra Costa County Probation Department has permanently eliminated collect calling for youth detained in its juvenile halls in Martinez and Byron, the County announced today.

“Rather than continuing the practice of charging recipients when a youth makes a call, the Department will now absorb those costs,” officials said.

Chief Probation Officer Esa Ehmen-Krause said the policy aims to remove a barrier to success for youth detainees and their loved ones, adding, “a pathway for increased communication with loved ones is the right thing to do.”

During the pandemic, the Probation Department has also used video visitation at no cost and plans to continue the service even after on-site visitation resumes.

In 2016, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors issued a moratorium on collecting juvenile probation fees, then the following year permanently repealed the fees. In 2018, Senate Bill 190 required counties to eliminate juvenile fines and fees, but the law did not include collect calling.

“In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that everyone stays connected to their families, especially youth, and I applaud the Probation Department for making it easier on families as we pursue the ultimate goal of reunification and living a healthy life,” Diane Burgis, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, said in a statement.