A new law in Ohio is improving opportunities for juvenile offenders and helping them integrate back into society.
Senate Bill 337, signed into law by Governor John Kasich, allows for juvenile records to be expunged after six months, excluding convictions of murder, attempted murder, or rape. Previously, records were not destroyed until after two years.
“Most people think your juvenile record disappears once you become an adult,” says Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick. “Well, we’re finding out it doesn’t.”
Dellick notes that some of these records have somehow been made public, making it hard for former offenders to attend college or to procure employment or housing. The reduced period between the sealing of records and their expungement limits the possibility that these will become available to those outside the justice system.
In addition to shortening the expungement period, the new law allows young offenders under 21 to stay in juvenile confinement, instead of merging them with the adult prison population. The law also establishes minimum training standards for probation programs.
All of these are important steps in helping young men and women move forward and leave their criminal behavior behind. Of course, much more support is required after incarceration to ensure that these former juvenile offenders remain on the right path. Counseling and encouragement are important ways to help them avoid returning to past ways. To find out how you can make a difference in the lives of these and other inmates, please visit our get involved pages and learn more about our mentoring opportunities.