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Title:Federal Policy Proposal: Youth Expungements
Author(s):Garcia-Greenawalt, Leyda M.
Subject(s):Youth Rehabilitation
Child Welfare
Juvenile Justice System
Youth Expungements
Abstract:Rehabilitating youths is one of the largest struggles we face as a nation. Do we treat them as minors or do we treat them as adults? How is this decision made? It is so easy for youths to get into either system – the child welfare or the juvenile justice system – but nearly impossible for them to exit either system and achieve success. Youths who are involved in the child welfare system are more likely to have a higher Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score, meaning they are more likely to have been exposed to multiple traumatic events. The fact of t he matter is the traumatic events in their lives (such as physical abuse, witness to violent crimes, etc.) are often what push youths to “act out” and thus get introduced to the juvenile justice system. An estimated 30 percent of children under the child welfare system’s jurisdiction become involved in the juvenile justice system (Smith, Ireland, & Thornberry, 2005). A dual jurisdiction study done in Arizona found youths involved in the child welfare system are more likely to be detained or sent to a group home (rather than being given probation) compared to youths who had no involvement in the child welfare system (Halemba, Siegel, Lord, Zawacki, 2004). As shown in other studies, people of color are also disproportionately overrepresented in both systems, putting them at an even greater disadvantage – African American youths in particular are at a greater risk of juvenile justice involvement (Herz, 2010; Herz et al., 2010). Although there have been several federal and state-based initiatives focused on helping dually involved youths, more can be done. Potential legislative initiatives to be implemented should focus on clearing the name and record of the youth – youths who have been arrested after being involved in the child welfare system need to be able to have their record expunged from years prior and have the associated fees waived. Youths must not face limited employment or education prospects because of something they did years ago “just to get by” (such as theft due to poverty or loitering/trespassing due to homelessness). This proposal mandates the federal government must provide funding for those involved in both the criminal justice system and the child welfare system to get their criminal records expunged and to have the associated fees waived.
Issue Date:2019
Publisher:University of Illinois School of Social Work
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Leyda M. Garcia-Greenawalt
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-03-15

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