WEST CHESTER, PA — Chester County has been honored with a national accolade for its Fresh Start Juvenile Record Expungement Program. The program, which offers juveniles who have successfully completed a diversion program the option to have their record expunged when they turn 18, was recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACo) with an Achievement Award in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety. This is a great achievement for Chester County, and it is thanks to the hard work of the Chester County Juvenile Probation Office, County Clerk of Courts Office, District Attorney’s Office, and President Judge that this program has been so successful!
Second chances are important. They give us an opportunity to show the world that we are not defined by our mistakes. They allow us to move forward, unencumbered by the weight of our past. And they remind us that it is never too late to start fresh.
The Fresh Start program in Chester County, Pennsylvania understands this. That’s why, for the last two years, they’ve been helping juveniles expunge their records so that a one-time misdemeanor doesn’t prevent them from future opportunities.
More than 150 people have benefited from the program so far, and I know that number will continue to grow. Because when we give people second chances, we all benefit. We create a more just and compassionate society, and we remind ourselves that everybody deserves a shot at a fresh start.
“We know that this is a valuable service for our residents and are pleased that NACo has acknowledged its importance too,” said Chester County Clerk of Courts Yolanda Van de Krol. “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.”
It’s no secret that our justice system is far from perfect. Young people are especially vulnerable to being caught up in the system, and a single mistake can have lifelong consequences. That’s why programs that offer first-time offenders the chance to avoid an adjudication of delinquency are so important. They give young people who have made a mistake the opportunity to put the past behind them and move on with their lives.
Chester County’s Director of Juvenile Probation, Don Corry, knows this firsthand. “The typical profile for youth who participate in one of our diversion programs is first time offenders who have committed a relatively minor offense and are assessed as low risk for reoffending,” he said. “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.” Programs like these give young people a second chance, and that’s something we should all support.
Counties play a vital role in our everyday lives, and the NACo Achievement Awards recognize the 18 different ways they contribute to our health, safety, and well-being. From children and youth programs to criminal justice and public safety initiatives, counties are working hard to make our world a better place. This year’s award-winning programs are a testament to that dedication and hard work.
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