Permanent Records, Processes, & You:
Are Juvenile Records Forever?

After Teenage Mistakes, Pardons Give Second Chance to Ex-Offenders


Making a mistake is part of life and as a teenager you’re bound to make several but, making a mistake that defines your whole life when your 17 is the harsh reality for some.  Contrary to popular belief, juvenile criminal records aren’t always sealed and can follow people throughout their lives.

What kinds of consequences might young offenders face?  Foremost, a young offender with a criminal record may not be able to work in certain industries (jobs that involve working with children or positions that handle money will certainly be restricted).  Even then, employers faced with choosing to hire between a candidate with a criminal record and one without one are more likely to hire the applicant without a criminal history.  Difficulty securing work can lead to other life long problems.  Without steady work, a person’s opportunity to make money is severely limited. This might lead to a life of poverty and the struggles that come with it.

Depending on the circumstances, a juvenile record that remains unsealed may be resolved through a pardon.  The process for securing pardons for criminal histories of a minor differs from state to state, however that process is rarely short let alone easy.  If a pardon is issued an individual may have an opportunity to secure a second chance at a productive and successful life for themselves, however pardons are rare and shouldn’t be considered a guaranteed solution.

New York is changing the lives of young offenders by granting pardons in some cases.  The lesson isn’t to expect a pardon or a second chance, but rather to understand the struggle for the many individuals facing lives of constant struggle as a result of poor decisions they made as teenagers.  Consider the consequences of your actions.


1. What did you think happened to your ‘juvenile record’ before reading this news piece?  In other words, before reading this piece, what did you think would happen once you turned 18 if you had been in legal trouble before becoming an adult?

2. Answer depending on how you feel: Why is it fair or unfair for the process of getting a juvenile record ‘sealed’ or hidden to be so difficult for some people?   If you’re still not clear on the idea of a juvenile record, think about it like a ‘permanent record’ that follows you through life as you apply for schools, jobs, a place to live and really just about anything you want that would need some kind of application.

3. What is the process to get a juvenile record sealed in the state you live in?  Specifically: How long can it take and what is the least amount of money it would cost to do it?

You can read more about one young man’s second chance in the NPR story which originally inspired this post here:  http://www.npr.org/2017/01/10/508369557/after-teenage-mistakes-pardons-give-second-chances-to-ex-offenders

Consequences, Criminal Records, Juvenile Justice, Law Related Education, LRE, Pardons, PBtR, Play By the Rules, Project REAL, Project Real Org, ProjectREALNV, Rights, Second Chances,

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