May 2, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Juvenile-court records could be sealed
Empower young people who make mistakes
The Seattle Times says the Legislature would seal “preconviction” records, but this is misleading [“Editorial: Don’t seal all juvenile-court records,” Opinion, April 22]. The bill before the Senate would seal only nonconviction records, meaning cases that have already finished in which the juvenile was not convicted.
A young person who is just starting out should not have to bear the burden of a mistaken arrest or dismissed charge. Even nonconviction records can do serious damage to youth. For example, one of Consejo Counseling & Referral Service’s clients was arrested for a misdemeanor crime. He was never convicted, but was denied a job after an employer ran a background check and found the record of the juvenile arrest.
Furthermore, even young people who are convicted of crimes have the ability to move beyond their youthful mistakes. Young people who have been convicted of crimes have gone on to become U. S. senators, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and successful executives.
We should transform, strengthen and empower young people who have done that, not shackle them by continuing to publicize their youthful mistakes.
Jaime Garcia, executive director, Consejo Counseling & Referral Service, Auburn
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