Topic: juvenile detention
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May 2, 2013 at 11:02 AM
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
April 27, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Open records put youth at a disadvantage
As prime sponsor of House Bill 1651, I was disappointed to see The Seattle Times editorial assert that HB 1651 is unconstitutional [“Editorial: Don’t seal all juvenile-court records,” Opinion, April 22].
Until 1977, all juvenile records were closed to the public without any constitutional issue. Currently, records for certain types of cases are already kept confidential without being deemed in violation of the constitution.
Under HB 1651, juvenile-court proceedings would remain open to the public, satisfying the constitutional requirement that justice be “administered openly.” Furthermore, records would remain available to the courts and law enforcement so that public safety can be protected. Juvenile records would still be available for research purposes to ensure government accountability. They just would not be sold to credit bureaus, as juvenile arrest and conviction records currently are, and would not be put on the web.
Washington is one of only eight states where juvenile records are open to the public and published online. As a result, our state’s youth are at a disadvantage when applying for jobs, schools and housing. It’s time we allow our juvenile-justice system to achieve its goal: rehabilitating former juvenile offenders so they may contribute to their communities as productive citizens.
Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, Olympia
April 25, 2013 at 7:34 AM
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
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