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Question of the day

Monday, Mar 31, 2014

* The Sun-Times reports that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing a Statehouse bill which would expunge some juvenile arrest records

The legislation, introduced Friday by Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), would apply to juvenile arrests that never resulted in formal criminal charges. The state would have to expunge those arrests automatically when a person turns 18. […]

About three-quarters of juvenile arrests in Cook County don’t result in charges, records show. The legislation would have applied to more than 16,000 arrests in 2013 in Chicago. Because the proposed legislation is retroactive, it could apply to tens of thousands of arrests, administration officials said. […]

Under the proposed legislation, those expunged records would be sealed to everyone except for police agencies to use in screening job applicants.

Prosecutors also would have access to those records to make charging decisions and sentencing recommendations in cases in which someone is charged with a similar crime as an adult, officials said.

Paula Wolff, senior executive of the policy group Metropolis Strategies, said she knows of a 19-year-old who was working as a school custodian for 10 months when he lost his job because of a background check. It revealed two juvenile arrests that didn’t result in charges, she said.

* The Question: Should juvenile arrest records be expunged if no formal charges were ever filed? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


free polls

- Posted by Rich Miller        


44 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    Seems to make complete sense to me. Giving someone a fresh start at 18 seems fair enough.


  2. - Anon - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    People who were not charged with a crime should not be branded as if they were not only charged, but convicted. The only way to prevent such injustice is expungement. I disagree with Rahm about many things, but on this he is right.


  3. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    Definitely expunge them. I was once arrested at high school because someone complained that SOMEONE at the bus stop waiting for the school bus threw an egg at another bus.

    The lazy police couldn’t figure out who did it, so they arrested every guy at the bus stop.

    This was in a quiet, white, suburban neighborhood. I can only imagine what happens in minority neighborhoods today where gangs and drugs are rampant, and many “wrong place at the wrong time” juveys are arrested.


  4. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    We have all done something when we were young and looked back “How stupid was I?” I can’t believe I did that. for that reason I said yes.


  5. - Bourbonrich - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    Sounds like arrest now and worry about charges later. Not fair to anyone to penalize for just an arrest. I am in favor of this bill.


  6. - William j Kelly - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Is there a way we can expunge the damage done to the victims of crime? I would be all for that!


  7. - carbaby - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    I completely agree. I’m curious what ISP has to say because my understanding for the last three years has been that any juvenile records weren’t to be released because they were juveniles.


  8. - mythoughtis - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    Why isn’t this done for everyone (not just under 18) now? If the charges are never filed, and it’s past the period during which charges could be filed, then expunge it automatically regardless of age.


  9. - TCB - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    I voted yes. What I don’t understand is why the Police agencies get to see these records.


  10. - LizPhairTax - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    William j Kelly

    Me too! This has to do with instances where no charges were filed so I’m not sure I follow your logic. Please enlighten me.


  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    Absolutely. No reason not to clear a juvenile’s record if there were no charges filed. Why not give them a clean slate to start their adult life?


  12. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Yes and I agree with mythoughtis @ 1:03pm. Better yet, why are we arresting 4 times more than we’re charging?


  13. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    ===he lost his job because of a background check===

    Is that really a legal reason to lose a job? I’d think that would count as wrongful termination but I’m honestly unknowledgeable about that topic.


  14. - William j Kelly - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Liz, as someone who was raised to obey rules and respect authority, I naturally have sympathy for the victims of crime and would like to see their lives improved as well, is there something wrong with that?


  15. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    @William J. Kelly:

    Re-read the question. The question relates to people who have NOT be charged with anything.

    Also, we’re all glad you are perfect and have never made any mistakes in your life.


  16. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    The press release makes reference to expungement and sealing. They are mutually exclusive terms. Poor reporting.


  17. - Mongo - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Yes…an arrest without any charge being filed is just an occurrence. No charge, no belief that the person arrested did the deed, or at least no proof.


  18. - A modest proposal - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    Juveniles and charges not even filed - I think a case for expungement can be made for either of the two. When those two factors are combined it is a no brainer to me..


  19. - Sunshine - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:58 pm:

    Good grief. for what my friends and I did as teenagers we’d likely serve time based upon todays standards. I think blowing up an outhouse would be a problem today?

    If no one was hurt, expunge the charges and close the book on it, forever.


  20. - William j Kelly - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    Demoralized, reread my comment, all I am saying is I would like to see more attention paid to the victims of crimes. I don’t know why you would react against that notion unless the new progressive thing to do is make the victims of crime out to be guilty for societies ills in some way, maybe they should be forced to pay a victims tax? (Is it necessary for me to point out that last part was meant to be sarcastic? Ok, that last part was meant to be sarcastic.)


  21. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    We shouldn’t keep records on people who weren’t even charged after an initial, mistaken arrest. I don’t care how old they are, toss the file.


  22. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    Yes, for two reasons:
    1. The frontal lobe is not fully developed until 18ish, so there is not yet full executive function (and for all the reasons those replying above yes).
    2. I have a friend who is a retired lawyer. He volunteers periodically at the Daley Center desk where juveniles can apply to have their records expunged if there are no charges. Every single time, the line is out the door and they can never serve all those who want to apply. This is waste of time and will only get worse if staffing is cut (and you are relying upon unpaid volunteers mostly). It should be automatic or, if not, provide a way to actually do it without spending days and days in line.


  23. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    William J Kelly,

    Don’t get snippy with commenters just because they presume that your post had something — anything — to do with the topic of Rich’s Question of the Day. Such commenters are merely giving you the benefit of the doubt. But don’t worry, I suspect that they won’t do so again.

    – MrJM


  24. - William j Kelly - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Sorry MrJM, every once in a while I forget the liberal double standard rule and respond in kind, please strike that from my permanent record!


  25. - Bourbonrich - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    Not expunging is penalizing people for something they did not do. Victims of crime are another issue. This is a scarlet letter that never should have been placed.


  26. - William j Kelly - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    I can only imagine how liberals will scream bloody murder when the police have an even more difficult time than they do now trying to identify, arrest and convict the right offenders in the futer because they don’t have the benefit of previous arrest records. Sorry again, but I grew up on the south side and can’t help but identify more with the police and victims on this one, peace out homies!


  27. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    @William J. Kelly:

    What any of your comments have to do with the topic at hand escapes me. If you want to hijack this and turn it into some crusade for victims so be it. I don’t think you’ll get too many arguments from people when it comes to victim’s rights.

    Now, can you please move on and comment on the ACTUAL question?

    Oh, and enough with the liberal/progressive garbage. This topic has nothing to do with any of that.


  28. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==because they don’t have the benefit of previous arrest records.==

    WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WITHOUT CONVICTIONS.

    And before Rich says anything, I’m moving on from your nonsense.


  29. - x ace - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    Bad idea if “formal criminal charges ” means only if minor is charged as adult in criminal court. ”

    Juvenile Petitions ” can involve serious offenses and should not be hastily expunged.

    Sealing already takes place.


  30. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    Of course. This is America, right?

    Kelly, I don’t know what you’re talking about. No one gets convicted because of a prior arrest record — or shouldnt.. You actually need crazy stuff like evidence. At least in America.


  31. - DuPage - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    @thechampaignlife@1:27=Is that really a legal reason to lose a job?

    Yes,it is if they falsify the job application, especially for working in a SCHOOL. Schools are REQUIRED by law to do background checks with police. Schools are very strict about the background of who is working around kids, they have to be.


  32. - plutocrat03 - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:50 pm:

    kind of goofy to keep an accusation, that no one tried to prosecute in a record.

    The person could have been not guilty after all


  33. - A modest proposal - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:56 pm:

    @William J. Kelly - What are they going to do about about the victims whose property you attempted to damage on the capitol grounds?


  34. - Chris - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    I’m with Anonymous. Expungement and Sealing are different. From the text of the article I think they are talking about sealing.

    For all of you above talking about victims and convictions and what-not, bear in mind that in juvie-land, many times the police (station adjustments) or prosecutors (Diversion) cut the kids a break without ever seeking charges. That doesn’t mean the person didn’t do it.

    Those are good programs and I wouldn’t want incentives to have more kids thrown in court.


  35. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:18 pm:

    Boy, it seems to me everyone is missing the larger and far more important question: why in the world are the police arresting 12,000 people a year who aren’t going to be charged? That’s the elephant in the room. When I’m wrong 3/4 of the time, I need to be re-trained or fired.


  36. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:33 pm:

    Schnorf, from my experience, I’m not surprised at all. In many neighborhoods throughout Illinois, the arrests are made to:

    – roust kids to keep the peace, for the night. Keep them from trouble, keep them from causing trouble.

    – flip them for somebody bigger.

    That’s not life in Hinsdale or Wilmette, but it’s pretty common police practice in many places from lake to river, the Wisconsin border to the Ohio.

    Like I said, sometimes it’s just to keep the peace. The police motives are not necessarily sinister.

    It ain’t great, but it’s tried and true over the years.

    But the arrests should be expunged. Hard to get a job with a long arrest sheet. And they’re easy to find these days.


  37. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:39 pm:

    word, I’m far from a law enforcement expert, but are there no measures other than an actual arrest to accomplish the same purposes? If there is no arrest, there is no record to be expunged.


  38. - Chris - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:41 pm:

    Schnorf - see my post above. Many, if not most, of juvenile arrests are essentially given a warning by the police instead of a formal charge. It doesn’t mean the police are “wrong” - it means they are being given a break to help their future.

    Your way would lead to far more charged and convicted kids. Is that what you want?


  39. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:47 pm:

    chris, I’m not asking why they are taken to the station, why they are detained for questioning, etc, but why they are arrested?


  40. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:51 pm:

    –chris, I’m not asking why they are taken to the station, why they are detained for questioning, etc, but why they are arrested?–

    Exactly.

    Chris, a “street adjustment” or “station adjustment” is not an arrest.

    Some folks know their rights, and say, “am I under arrest? If not, I’m leaving…”

    So they get arrested, when everyone knows it will get booted in the morning or at arraignment.

    An arrest is a nasty paper trail when you’re looking for work.


  41. - Chris - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:53 pm:

    Steve - you referred to the police as “wrong” 3/4 of the time. That simply is not true.

    A station adjustment *is* an arrest. The person is arrested and then released after the formal or informal adjustment.

    As far as the arrest part - if they are going to be transported to the station they basically have to be arrested.


  42. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 6:01 pm:

    apparently differences of opinion here


  43. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 9:06 am:

    I thought the law already provided for expungement of arrests that did not result in conviction. I appreciate that this is automatic, but I really don’t think they should call it expungement when they are only sealing the records. I don’t understand why anyone can use a youth arrest against you, especially when it didn’t result in a conviction. These records should be truly expunged, which means destroyed so that no one, not even law enforcement can find them. I can’t even imagine how many arrests happen because kids are looking suspicious.


  44. - Robo - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 9:09 am:

    The SOP in the field for a LLEO is to arrest everybody in confusing situations and sort it out at the station. If no charges develop there shouldn’t be a penalty for being arrested, that would almost be like applying guilt by association.


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