The consequences of a juvenile arrest or adjudication can be ever-lasting. Mistakes from the past can follow youth into the future, affecting college applications, job hunts, and access to stable housing.
For adults, the problem is often amplified. Criminal records can be severe barriers to stable employment and housing, and can oftentimes contribute to recidivism.
On Monday, attorneys with the Office of Defense Services, representatives for the Dover Inter-ministerial Alliance, the Delaware Department of Labor, the Delaware State Housing Authority, Rep. Sean Lynn, the Delaware Center for Justice and others, hosted a clinic for juveniles seeking expungements, and adults who needed to start the process to expunge their adult record or gain a gubernatorial pardon.
Overall, the clinic aided nearly 100 people. Of those, approximately 45 were juveniles who were eligible for mandatory expungements. Another four juveniles were eligible to petition the Court to review their record for a discretionary expungement.
The rest of the clinic’s attendees were adults seeking an expungement, or in most cases, a pardon. The turnout for the nearly seven-hour long clinic was above expectation, showing how dire the need is for both clinics like these and further reform to the state’s expungement laws.
Last year we worked with lawmakers to pass a bill, Senate Bill 198, that would make it easier for juveniles to get some charges expunged. Still, Delaware lags behind other states. The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center gave Delaware low marks for its expungement statutes.
This year? We want to do more.
Expanding and tweaking Delaware’s juvenile expungement laws is one of our office’s top goals over the next two years in Legislative Hall. We are currently working on legislation that would allow more people with only juvenile records to petition the court for a discretionary expungement.
People who have turned their lives around deserve the chance to get a foot in the door.
If you support giving youth a chance, please contact your local Senators and Representatives and tell them to support expansion of juvenile expungement.
Click here to find your local Representative and Senator.