Teenagers urge lawmakers to pass bill sealing juvenile records

Proposal is included in a Senate-approved criminal justice reform bill

BOSTON (WWLP) — Teenagers are pushing for lawmakers to pass legislation that would seal or erase certain juvenile records. They say such a move would give young people a second chance.

Nearly 30 percent of youthful offenders are convicted of new crimes after they’re released.

Having a juvenile record can be a barrier to accessing higher education, finding housing and, especially, getting a job. 22-year-old Jefferson Alvarez said his juvenile criminal record still follows him around.

“We don’t have no open doors, especially if we already got into the system,” Jefferson Alvarez of UTEC Lowell told 22News. “Even though when I go to a job interview, the first thing they go to is my CORI. I got into trouble six years ago; why is it still being brought up?”

Young people gathered at the State House Tuesday, urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would expunge, or erase, juvenile records. Court records can prevent people from becoming foster parents or working certain jobs, such as child care.

Under the bill, a record could be sealed after one year and expunged after three years if a youthful offender stays out of trouble. If the bill becomes law, juvenile court records of cases that are dismissed or not prosecuted would be immediately sealed.

“Everyone deserves a second chance, especially when you’re young,” Coy Walker of Teens Leading the Way said. “You make a mistake but you don’t want that to hang over you forever so you get that second chance and you’re able to move on with your life having learned from your experience.”

The proposal is included in a Senate-approved criminal justice reform bill. The bill must be approved by both chambers and get the Governor’s signature before it can become law.