Illinois lawmakers have decided it’s time to take a fresh approach to counteracting all the gun violence and overflowing jails in their cities. And this fresh approach starts with the young people.
Illinois’ legislature has passed a law allowing the state to automatically expunge the minor arrests records of juveniles. With some exceptions, the slates of juveniles arrested but not charged will be wiped clean, erasing the arrests as they enter adulthood.
ABC News reports, “The goal is to give tens of thousands of teens a better chance to find work or get into college, rather than letting a minor episode with police possibly doom them to a life on the gang-dominated streets of some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.”
While expungement has been an option for some time now, many are unaware of the opportunity or unable to hire a lawyer and pay for the process. But with the passing of this new law, more young people with minor arrests are getting a second chance at living a life free from a criminal record.
Although some state lawmakers oppose the soft message automatic expungement may send to young people, others note that past methods have failed and a different plan is necessary to change the course of the city’s future.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he wants to see more young people graduating school and making a successful career for themselves. He states, “If they have a record, it’s harder, [and] if they don’t have a record, they’ll get a job, and they will be less likely to have a life of crime.”