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Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 25, 2013 at 7:34 AM

Juvenile-court records could be sealed

Let young criminals move on

When considering legislation about sealing juvenile-court records it is important to keep in mind the critical role of the juvenile-justice system [“Editorial: Don’t seal all juvenile-court records,” Opinion, April 22].

Juvenile cases are handled in separate courts because the juvenile-justice system has a distinct purpose. The Washington Supreme Court has recognized time and time again that the purpose of the juvenile court is protection, guidance and rehabilitation, not punishment. It recognized in 1957 that closing juvenile court hearings to the public does not violate the constitutional guarantee of open courts.

We undermine the goals of the juvenile-justice system when we make public juvenile-court records.

Public oversight of the judicial process is important. It is equally important to allow young people to move on with their lives.

Vanessa Hernandez, Equal Justice Works Fellow, ACLU of Washington

Comments | Topics: juvenile court, juvenile detention, records

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