SPRINGFIELD - Legislation signed by Governor Rauner last week allows Illinois juveniles to have court records for non-violent offenses expunged.
Through HB 5017, sponsored by State Rep. Barbara Wheeler of Crystal Lake, juveniles may petition the court at any time for expungement of law enforcement records and juvenile court records for non-violent offenses at any point after the termination of all court proceedings relating to the incident.
“Criminal records can follow an individual for years past the date of a crime and well past the period of rehabilitation,” said Wheeler. “The same is true for juvenile offenders, who often make a poor choice before their impulse control mechanisms are fully developed. This new law allows juveniles to truly start with a clean slate after making reparations for their non-violent crimes.”
According to Wheeler, the need for the bill was brought to her attention by a 15-year-old from District 64 who was concerned that a few bad decisions that landed him in police custody would damage his chances of getting into college and having a good future. The previous law only allowed for expungement in rare cases, or after the individual turns 21 years old.
“All kids make mistakes; they all make occasional bad choices,” said Wheeler. “If society is going to hold those bad choices over juveniles’ heads as they attempt to build a successful future for themselves, we are doing nothing to improve society or to address Illinois’ need for juvenile justice reform. Every child should be given every opportunity to have a fresh start upon entering adulthood as long as their crime was not of a violent nature, and by wiping their slate clean, troubled teens can become successful and contributing adults.”
HB 5017 was a bipartisan initiative, with Wheeler carrying the bill in the House and Democrat Kwame Raul of Chicago carrying it in the Senate.