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Cleaning Up the Record

Another of the major innovations made by the Act is the introduction of a right by a juvenile offender, probation officer, or close relative of a juvenile to apply to the juvenile court before which the original proceedings were taken, for the record of conviction and order imposed on a juvenile to be expunged.[1] This means that the records are now to be kept and thus operates as part of a new regime not to destroy such records. This does not appear to be in tune with the philosophy of the system to permit the juvenile to make a clean start; it merely discriminates between those who deserve such assistance to have a clean record and those whose subsequent lifestyle would bring them into conflict with the law again. In the past, the failure to keep the records sometimes created the situation where a hardened youngster finding his way into the adult prison system after a stint at the Correctional Centre would be treated as a first-time offender and be subjected to considerations during sentencing that might be completely unsuitable for that person’s state of depravity.[2] This is particularly of important now that various terms may be imposed instead of the old fixed term of a 3-year detention. Records of those involved in serious and violent crimes that would other?wise have been punished as first-degree and even capital crimes must now be kept so that if they come in contact with the system again, they could be dealt with appropriately.[3] Secondly, the old practice made it impossible for the effectiveness of the system to be assessed. With no attempt to create procedures for follow-up of its past inmates, the system is disabled from engaging in effective self-criticism.

  • [1] Section 37(1)
  • [2] Vedder, supra, p31
  • [3] Section 37(3)
 
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