By Alexandra Arachikavitz

The General Assembly passed a bill that will allow youth to expunge additional juvenile records and help kids get back on track. When kids get back on track, we must help them be prepared to succeed in the future as adults. Their records should not hold them back from opportunities to learn by attending a college or trade school, get a good job, and contribute to their communities.

During the 2016 legislative session, HB 40 passed, which gave adults the ability to expunge more from their records than children can expunge. SB 195 addressed that issue by allowing youth to expunge additional offenses.

To continue to make progress in the justice system and build youth into successful adults, Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield heard several recommendations and incorporated them into SB 195. The bill includes allowing juvenile records to be expunged two years after the jurisdiction ends, or automatically when a case is dismissed or it was found that the child didn’t commit the offense.

The court will inform the youth of the expungement process and help put them on a path toward educational and employment success. Clearing records helps youth successfully transition to adulthood without those childhood mistakes limiting their opportunities to be a productive member of society.

We know that Kentucky communities are safest when there are more opportunities to make sure the justice system holds kids accountable and gets them back on track. While being a student intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates, I have seen in the Juvenile Justice Oversight Council (JJOC) meetings that Kentucky has made strides in improving the youth justice system in recent years.

Youth are our future leaders, and I want to see them get back on track to become productive citizens, grow into leaders, and keep communities safe. These components of SB 195 will accomplish this goal. Thanks to Senator Whitney Westerfield, Senate President Robert Stivers, and House Judiciary Chairman Joe Fischer for championing this effort. SB 195 has been signed by Governor Bevin and we look forward to the implementation of this bill.