A Chester County Court System service that offers juveniles who have successfully completed a diversion program the option to have their record expunged when they turn 18, has garnered national acclaim.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) has recognized the efforts of the Chester County Juvenile Probation Office, County Clerk of Courts Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and the President Judge with an Achievement Award in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety for the County’s Fresh Start Juvenile Record Expungement program. The purpose of the NACo award is to honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
The Fresh Start program was introduced in August 2019 following recommendations by Chester County’s Juvenile Probation Office. Since its start, more than 150 people each year have had their records expunged so that, in the words of the program nomination “a one-time misdemeanor does not turn into a longer ‘sentence’ that prevents future opportunities.”
Similar to the County’s state-wide Clean Slate program that seals but does not expunge records, this expungement service for non-adjudicated juveniles does not require any action by the juvenile to initiate the process.
Chester County Clerk of Courts Yolanda Van de Krol noted, “Also along the lines of the Clean Slate legislation, this expungement service for juveniles is valuable for counties like ours, where the unemployment rate is low.
“It ensures those looking for jobs or looking to go to college who did not realize the importance of expunging their records, will not have any additional stumbling blocks in their way. We know that this is a valuable service for our residents and are pleased that NACo has acknowledged its importance too.”
Don Corry, Chester County’s Director of Juvenile Probation said, “The typical profile for youth who participate in one of our diversion programs, which allows them to avoid an adjudication of delinquency, is first time offenders who have committed a relatively minor offense and are assessed as low risk for reoffending.
“Expungement at the age of 18 helps those young people who made one minor, yet still illegal, mistake put the past behind them as they move on to higher education, employment and become contributing adults in society,” added Corry.
Examples of the type of records that are expunged for first time offenders who successfully completed a diversion program include misdemeanors such as criminal mischief, criminal trespass, or disorderly conduct.
The NACo Achievement Awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
NACo President Larry Johnson said, “All across the country, counties are working tirelessly to support residents. This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties work every day to build healthy, safe, and thriving communities.”