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Courts and Crime

Report: Inconsistencies Found in Sealing of Juvenile Records in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine - A new report finds gaps and inconsistencies in the sealing of juvenile records in Maine. 

While the juvenile justice system has traditionally emphasized treatment and rehabilitation for young people, limited safeguarding of these records can create consequences for people later in life.  Those consequences include difficulty finding a job, housing or serving in the military.   

Co-author Susy Hawes of the University of Southern Maine's Muskie Institute says there's a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about sealing juvenile records in Maine.  Many people believe that juvenile records are automatically sealed at age 18.  Hawes says that's not the case;  in Maine, an individual has to petition the court to get juvenile records sealed.

"Some people said I envisioned a piece of paper that just was completely blank when I turned eighteen - my record would just be gone," Hawes says, "because they believe that they would have no reason to attempt to seal their record, because they don't believe they have one anymore."

Hawes says people have lost out on jobs, and been accused of lying when a background check discovered a juvenile record an applicant thought was no longer there.  

The University of Maine School of Law hosts a panel discussion this afternoon on the report's findings.  It's at 4:45 in the Law School Moot Court Room in Portland.