Illinois residents have long believed that if a minor makes a mistake, it shouldn’t ruin their future. According to a study conducted by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, this isn’t necessarily the case.
The study found that due to law enforcement record sharing laws, an individual arrested as a juvenile may have that arrest sent to other law agencies and, through loopholes in law, that arrest record could be accessed by third parties conducting background investigations. The only tried and true way to prevent the records from being released, is to have the record expunged.
However, the Juvenile Justice Commission found this process also has major flaws, since expungement can be a confusing, burdensome, and expensive process. Furthermore, often court and law enforcement officials tasked with undertaking the expungement process lack training, understanding, or in some cases, outright neglect their legal role.
The report states that less than one-third of one percent of juveniles being arrested were granted an expungement due to restrictive eligibility criteria. As a result, those affected experienced greater difficulty obtaining employment, continuing education, or even finding housing.
Allowing young men and women to rebuild and learn from mistakes committed as a juvenile gives them the opportunity to lead successful, profitable lives and become productive members of society. To accomplish this, the Commission recommends enhancing confidentiality through limiting access to, and instances involving, juvenile records.
The recommendations also advocate for increased access to the expungement process, by automatically removing arrest records if no charges are filed, or the defendant is found not guilty, shorter waiting periods, creation of education programs for clerks and officials, and elimination of the fees associated with expungement.
The full report can be found on the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission located here.