There is an article today in the New York Times discussing the issue of juvenile offenders and the importance of sealing their records from the public eye. The article examines how many states fail to protect the confidentiality of juvenile records despite data showing that “95 percent of young people enter the juvenile justice system for nonviolent crimes like theft or vandalism — behavior they typically leave behind when they move into adulthood.” The failure of states to protect this information can follow teen offenders into adulthood; leading to them being denied jobs, housing, and admission to college. Each state deals with this issue differently but as the article explains “only a few states have ironclad systems prohibiting employers and members of the public from gaining access to these records.”
The Juvenile Law Center, a public interest law firm in Philadelphia, rated all the states and the District of Columbia based on how well they protect confidentiality of these records. What's the problem for Idaho? “Dead last is Idaho, because it has no confidentiality protections for juvenile records and makes very few records eligible to be sealed.” With a simple search on the Idaho Repository the public has access to nearly all-juvenile records in Idaho.
The Idaho Repository, now becoming iCourt, is a useful system that allows anyone to access civil and criminal state records at just the click of a button. It is one of the most transparent state systems available and, in many ways this is an important and valuable resource to many people statewide (I know I use it every day). However, in my opinion, it is a shame that most juvenile records follow Idahoans around indefinitely. I agree with the central thesis of the article: “[t]he fact that most juvenile offenders never presented a threat to public safety and have no further contact with the law after they become adults argues strongly for sealing or expunging records so that young offenders are not permanently impaired by their youthful transgressions.”
You can find the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/17/opinion/second-chances-for-teen-offenders.html?smid=pl-share.
If you or your child is charged with a juvenile offense it is important to hire an attorney familiar with juvenile court. With the right attorney as your advocate, you may be able to avoid the negative impacts discussed in this article.