UW Today

May 11, 2011

Recently passed bill helps give youthful offenders second chances

 

Rehabilitating juvenile offenders and reintegrating them into society is the goal of the juvenile justice system, but widespread distribution of records prevents thousands of Washington teens from participating without being haunted by the mistakes of their past.

On Thursday, May 12, Governor Chris Gregoire will sign a bill that will change all that, thanks to students at the Child and Youth Legislative Advocacy Clinic at the University of Washington

The bill bans private credit reporting agencies from selling a youths criminal records after he or she turns 21. The measure will also allow a youth who has received a pardon the chance to start over with a clean record. In addition, the bill will create a legislative task force to determine cost-effective ways to further protect juvenile record information.

“Kids lives were being ruined by their records,” explained clinic member Mike Felton. “The rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile system is contradicted when private companies sell kids records for a profit.  It makes it harder for young people to start over with a new job and a place to live.”

The law school students worked with Rep. Jeannie Darneille (D-27, Tacoma) to secure passage of the bill. Other support came from Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-32, Lake Forest Park), Rep. Mary Helen Roberts (D-21, Edmonds), Sen. Nick Harper (D-38, Everett), Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24, Hoquiam) and Sen. Debbie Regala (D-27, Tacoma).

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For more information on Substitute House Bill 1793 or the Child and Youth Legislative Advocacy Clinic, contact Emily Brice at uwlegislativeclinic@gmail.com or 773-870-2755.