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FBI To Collect Records on Juveniles

FBI To Collect Records On Juveniles

The U.S. Justice Department has plans to authorize the FBI to gather juvenile offense records from the states. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors generally expressed support for the proposal.

Current Justice Department rules allow the FBI to collect juvenile offenses records only in cases where the youth was tried as an adult. The new proposal, announced in the June 5 issue of the Federal Register, would authorize the bureau to accept records about offenses committed by youth who were adjudicated in juvenile court.

Most of the public comments were in opposition to the rule. The complaints were that the rule undermines the long history of treating juvenile offenders differently from adults, that it is too loosely written and would allow records to be kept on minor offenses, and that FBI files on juvenile offenders could hamper any efforts by the youths to obtain employment or otherwise become law-abiding members of society.

The rule would purportedly exclude non-serious offense records, but "it would in fact allow retention of records pertaining to such incidents as school yard fights and shoplifting," said Lenore Gittis, attorney in charge of the New York Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Division.

From: Criminal Justice Newsletter, 7/15/91

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