May 31, 2016 Practice Points

"Burdened for Life: The Myth of Juvenile Record Confidentiality and Expungement in Illinois"

By Julie Biehl

In April, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission in partnership with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law released "Burdened for Life: The Myth of Juvenile Record Confidentiality and Expungement in Illinois." This first of a kind study explains that Illinois laws and policies governing the treatment of court and arrest records of youth "threaten public safety, produce substantial unnecessary costs, and impede young people's ability to transition to productive adulthood."

Although state law long has emphasized the principle that a youth's mistakes should not brand that child for life, Illinois youth have been harmed by the erosion of confidentiality protections and the extreme difficulty and expense of erasing a record through the expungement process, according to the report.

In Illinois, tens of thousands of juveniles are arrested each year, and the largest majority of those arrests by far are for non-violent offenses. Over the last decade, only three of every 1,000 arrests—less than one third of one percent of juvenile arrests—were expunged in Illinois, the study determined.

Julie Biehl is with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, Illinois.


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