Our friends at the Juvenile Law Center recently released a rigorous national scorecard that grades jurisdictions based on their policies for keeping juvenile records confidential and allowing for sealing or expungement. In sum, the vast majority of jurisdictions fail to protect sensitive information contained in juvenile records, with none earning the maximum five-star rating and the national average coming in at three stars.
For the millions of youth arrested each year in America, 95 percent of whom are arrested for nonviolent offenses, juvenile records can follow them into adulthood and create barriers for success. In many jurisdictions, employers and other members of the public have access to such records, which can lead to young people being denied jobs, housing, or even access to higher education.
The scorecard reminds us that juvenile justice issues are fertile ground for lawyers, law firms, and legal departments looking to develop or expand their pro bono practice. The range of opportunities is broad and deep, with options for both small- and large-scale projects. Pro bono lawyers assist youth and their families as they work to seal or expunge a juvenile record. Lawyers can also take on related pro bono work, such as the school-to-prison pipeline, access to counsel, and more.
To learn more, check out the on-demand version of our recent webinar, “Pro Bono in Practice: Juvenile Justice,” during which expert panelists explore pro bono and legal developments related to juvenile justice. Registration is free for Law Firm Pro Bono Project Member Firms. Please contact Law Firm Project Assistant Eva Richardson for registration information or for assistance with becoming a Member.