documentI think all of us can agree that at some point in our youth we made a stupid mistake. For some youth, the mistake (like sneaking in to an abandoned building to smoke cigarettes with friends) led to a juvenile charge. These charges often impact youth as adults because their juvenile record stays with them, even if they get back on track after messing up as a young person.

What we’re doing now isn’t working to achieve our end goal of letting kids who have been held accountable and stay out of trouble become productive adults. Automatically sealing and clearing records of non-violent offenses can give youth the fresh start they need to be successful in life—and SB 294 seeks to do just that.

Currently, youth can formally request to have records for the most minor offenses sealed or wiped, but the process is complicated and costly. SB 294 automates the process because many young people may not have the financial or legal resources to proceed with the current expungement procedures. SB 294 also would allow additional juvenile offenses that don’t pose a risk to public safety to be expunged. The story below illustrates the barrier a past mistake can create for a youth who understands the consequences of his actions and wants to better his future.

John* sought to join the military. As a youth, he had been adjudicated for committing burglary for breaking into an abandoned building with friends to smoke cigarettes. His attorney had secured expungement for the offense. When John disclosed the information to the military recruiters, the military requested confirmation of expungement of the charge. After his attorney provided proof of the expungement, he was accepted into the military.

John was lucky enough to have a lawyer who secured expungement for him. Without the expungement, John’s mistake as a kid could have compromised his ability to serve his country as an adult. Many youth don’t realize – until it’s too late – the importance of having their records cleared. SB 294 will streamline the process and extend this option to additional youth who should have a second chance to succeed as an adult. Learn more about how automatically expunging a record for youth who committed a non-violent offense expands opportunities for them later on in work and education here.

Take action on SB 294, sponsored by Senator Whitney Westerfield, by contacting your Senator today.

*Name has been changed to respect confidentiality.