Dear Second Chance Supporter,
Please ask that Senate File 876/House File 602 be given a hearing in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Please call and write your legislators.
Thousands of Minnesota’s children have their future limited by their juvenile delinquency record. In 1986 Minnesota law was changed to open court proceedings to the public for 16 and 17 year-olds charged with any felony level offense. The resulting records are also public, even if the charges are later dismissed or reduced. Since 1986, criminal records have been made publicly available on centralized electronic sources, the number of commercial background data companies has skyrocketed, and the percentage of employers conducting background checks for any position has increased over 60%. Now thousands of Minnesota’s young people have their future potential unnecessarily limited. Over 2,500 felony level delinquency petitions are filed for 16-17 year olds in Minnesota each year (in 2010, 2,646 were filed). When these young people later seek employment and housing, they will often be denied, sometimes not even knowing their juvenile record was the reason for denial. This situation is contrary to the rehabilitative purposes of the juvenile justice system.
House File 876 and Senate File 602 would alleviate this problem by allowing judges to decide, on a case-by-case basis, if a felony level charge of a 16 or 17 year old is serious or violent enough to warrant a public hearing and record. The most serious cases, extended jurisdiction juvenile and adult certification hearings, will remain automatically open to the public. Victims will still have access to all hearings.
Records maintain current availability for Department of Human Services background studies, corrections, law enforcement, schools, parents, and all positions requiring a background check to work with children.
This is a bipartisan initiative by Representatives Smith, Woodard, Shimanski, Johnson, Hilstrom, Gauthier, Howes, Champion, Moran, Kieffer, Liebling, Lesch; Senators Jungbauer and Harrington
To find your legislators http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/. Cut and paste the above message to ask them to support the bills getting a hearing before this year’s deadline – March 16th.
For additional information: Mark Haase, Council on Crime and Justice firstname.lastname@example.org