The True Cost of Juvenile Expungement
Both the sharing and cost of juvenile records are having a negative impact on people who once committed minor offenses and want to remove those incidents from their records in Illinois.
As reported by Fox 32 Chicago, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission issued the results of a study last month that cited high juvenile record elimination costs that run as much as $320 for each arrest. The commission, which was formed by legislation to report to the governor and lawmakers on matters of juvenile justice in the state, also included strict eligibility rules in its list of roadblocks for people seeking to remove their juvenile records. These records can impact a person in many areas of their lives, including preventing them from gaining employment, finding housing and accessing education.
Annual record erasure found to be incredibly low
While no state agency had a comprehensive list of the number of records that have been erased annually, the commission did find that 87 percent of counties reported doing less than one juvenile record sweep per year from 2004 to 2014. They arrived at this number using interviews with law enforcement agencies, county clerks, prosecutors, judges, detention centers and requests for open records. On average, according to the study results, only 3 out of 1,000 juvenile records were expunged over that ten-year period.
The Illinois Expungement Unit of the Office of the State Appellate Defender’s Director, Ashley Richardson, said that keeping track of how many juvenile records were blocked for all 102 counties in the state would be too difficult. Her office is responsible for providing juveniles with information about how to remove past offenses from their records.
The commission’s list of recommendations included clearer language on the sealing of juvenile records, instituting a penalty for the sharing of the records with unauthorized people, broadening Illinois’ current expungement policy, and removing high fees.
Broad record-sharing raises alarm
Currently, juvenile records can’t hide previous offenses in the case of murder and sex offenses or if the young person is convicted of an offense after becoming 18. No one under the age of 18 can apply for juvenile record elimination. There is a currently a plan being considered in the Senate that would let a person under 18 petition to have his or her record erased for some offenses.
While the partial or total erasure of court and criminal records still lets corrections facilities, the military and law enforcement view criminal histories, the commission also found that these records were shared with schools, landlords and even the general public in some cases. Commission Chairman George W. Timberlake noted that both the restrictive expungement and weak confidentiality laws are now acting as barriers when it comes to the rehabilitation of young adults.
If you need to have your record expunged in Illinois, contact seasoned criminal defense attorneys in Springfield IL for help. While help is hopefully on the way, the current record elimination process can be too complex for you to handle on your own.