PALM BEACH LAKES — Juveniles committed 5,482 offenses in Palm Beach County between 2010 and 2011 but only 0.1 percent were serious crimes such as murder or manslaughter. Still, the number of youth prosecuted as adults totaled nearly four percent. And the cost to taxpayers for operating the juvenile detention center during that period was $5.2 million.
Those were some of the statistics that the Palm Beach County’s Juvenile Justice Board wrestled with during its first “Impacts” workshop, on the topic, “A Lifetime of Consequences: Criminal Records of Juveniles,” held March 26 at Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach.
Speaker after speaker explained the role of agencies that control the dissemination of juvenile records, the premise being that an understanding of the immense bureaucracy of recordkeeping on juvenile crime and its potential impact was crucial to keeping the general public informed.
The seminar addressed the consequences of entry into the juvenile system and its potential for labeling juvenile offenders as felons and what that means over a lifetime.
An afternoon panel discussion on the effects of such
labeling and its “lifetime of consequences” featured two panelists, both named “Veronica” — who spoke about their
experiences with juvenile criminal records. One of them said she has graduated from law school but has had trouble every step of the way — in applying for school, in getting housing, in getting a job. She said she is now hoping to be admitted to the Bar in order to practice law. The other “Veronica” said she is about to graduate from high school and wants to pursue a career in a field that she is now prohibited from- entering: working with children.
Panelists also des-cribed the impact with regard to entering the law enforcement field, background screening such as that required for teaching, and working with the elderly. The impact is based on the offense, conviction or adjudications. Even the ability to enlist in the
military can be affected
by juvenile records and whether they are expunged, sealed or not.
Panelists also emphasized that there are new opportunities for federal bonding of employers who are willing to hire young adults with juvenile criminal records.