How Does Your State Rate in Providing Access to “Confidential” Juvenile Records?
Date:  12-01-2014

Access to juvenile records by the public and failure to expunge records can cause harmful consequences in the future
The Juvenile Law Center (JLC) issued a “report card” on where states fare in protecting young people who were juvenile justice system involved. It may come as a huge shock to many that answer is “not too well.” JLC reports that some states allow access of juvenile records “to media, employers, government agencies and victims or sell the data to for-profit companies.” And, the JLC reports that 95 percent of juveniles who are arrested committed nonviolent offenses yet, because many states do not destroy juvenile records after the young person is no longer under court supervision, these minor offenses can wreak havoc for him or her in the future.

JLC’s announcement of the “report card” follows:

Philadelphia, PA) – According to a new national scorecard released today by Juvenile Law Center, the vast majority of states are failing to protect highly sensitive information contained in juvenile court records, creating barriers to education, employment and success for American youth.Read Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures: A Nationwide Scorecard on Juvenile Records, is the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of state policies that govern the confidentiality and expungement of juvenile court and law enforcement records. No state earned the maximum five-star rating, with the national average coming in at three stars out of the possible five stars.

Millions of youth are arrested each year in the United States; 95% of these youth are arrested for non-violent offenses. Arrests and court involvement leads to the creation of juvenile records - all containing details about a child’s family, social history, mental health history, substance abuse history, education, and involvement with the law.

While access to this information by law enforcement and youth-serving agencies is necessary to provide treatment and rehabilitative services to youth, many states also allow widespread access to media, employers, government agencies and victims or sell the data to for-profit companies. Once disclosed, this information is difficult, if not impossible, to recall and can permanently stigmatize youth - interfering with their ability to obtain a job, secure housing, pursue higher education, join the military, or access public benefits. To ensure that records do not limit future opportunities, sealing (closed to the public) and expungement (destruction) of juvenile records should be available to all youth.

“The juvenile justice system is intended to rehabilitate youth and prepare them for a productive future, yet our mishandling of juvenile records creates a paper trail that can lead to failure,” said Lourdes Rosado, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center. “These records can follow children and youth into adulthood and often limit opportunities for success.” Read more

Source: Reclaiming Futures