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No juvenile records reform

Published (6/1/2010)
By Mike Cook
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Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a plan to expunge certain juvenile records and potentially waive certain juvenile criminal histories that can be barriers to employment as an adult.

One provision of the bill would have permitted a petition to be brought forth to seal “any type of delinquency or criminal record relating to a juvenile matter” if the person had successfully completed terms of a diversion program or stay of adjudication agreed to by a prosecutor and had not been charged with a new crime for at least a year. It would not have applied if the youth was certified as an adult for his or her criminal action.

“Expungements should remain an extraordinary remedy,” Pawlenty wrote in his veto letter. “These changes to the expungement law would allow persons to receive expungements for very serious crimes (such as crimes requiring registration under the predatory offender registration statute).”

Also under the bill, the Department of Human Services commissioner would have to consider granting a set-aside or variance to someone at least age 21 who is disqualified from working in the human services area for specific crimes they committed while the person was under age 18.

Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul), who sponsors the bill with Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul), said it would help people who did “a dumb thing” as a youth, and want to work in a field where DHS licensure is required. Opponents said juveniles who committed violent crimes shouldn’t get the chance to care for others most in need.

“Changing these provisions takes the state backwards, by permitting people with the most serious criminal histories to work directly with children and vulnerable adults in licensed settings and unlicensed personal care attendant situations,” Pawlenty wrote.

The bill also would have required a court to order a chemical health screening when a child is found to be delinquent. A referral would have been required in consultation with the child’s family if the screening indicated a need for a chemical use assessment.

HF3382/ SF2790*/CH335

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