"Clean Slate" Law Clears Some Juveniles' Arrest Records

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By WSIL Manager

WSIL  -- A new state law hopes to give misguided youth a leg up. The "Clean Slate" law will now expunge the arrests records of many teens with minor offenses.

Juveniles who were arrested for non-violent, less serious reasons and never charged, will automatically get a clean slate as soon as they turn 18. Lawyers and state officials say this law will help these kids get into schools and get jobs without arrest records hanging over their heads. 

"We find private corporations are going out and buying data or mining data from local jurisdictions all over the country, not just here in southern Illinois. And that data, then, being given to employers down the road," says Jeff Bradley, the statewide coordinator for the Juvenile Detention Alternative initiative. 
     
He says he sees kids with minor offenses from years ago turned down from jobs all the time. That's why he believes the new Clean Slate law will help.
 
"You're not saddling kids with records for juvenile arrests when they were never charged with some offense, or the case never went forward for whatever reason," Bradley explains.
 
The legislation stipulates the teen can't have been criminally charged, and the arrest can't be tied to felonies or sex assault cases.
 
Perry County Assistant State's Attorney Dave Searby's office is no stranger to juvenile cases. It was one of the first in southern Illinois to start Youth Court, as a way to get kids out of criminal court proceedings. He says this bill will give teens a second chance to get on the right path.
 
"It's just another tool that I think gives a minor, and subsequently, a future adult the ability to be very positive as they're starting out in school, like college, or in the workforce."
 
While the Clean Slate law will clear the arrest record of a teen, it's not going off the books completely. Bradley says law enforcement still has the ability to keep their local records.
 
This isn't the first change we've seen from the state when it comes to juvenile offenders. Bradley explains the whole department is undergoing an overhaul, primarily to cut costs by keeping kids out of the system. They're also using more evidence-based programs to keep teens on the straight and narrow.
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