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ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN JUVENILE COURT PROCEEDINGS
LEGAL GUIDE - JUVENILE JUSTICE RECORDS

The juvenile justice system is made up of juvenile courts, detention centers, private residential facilities, and secure treatment facilities. Whereas the adult criminal justice system is, with limited exceptions, open to the public, in the juvenile justice system, those who commit crimes are treated in a protected environment and information concerning the arrest and conviction of a minor is not generally available to the public.

The goals of the juvenile justice system,1 in brief, are to hold juveniles accountable for their unlawful behavior; provide secure and therapeutic confinement to those juveniles who present a danger to the community; provide community-based services and maintain juveniles in their home whenever appropriate; provide supervision in order to discourage reoffending; and to promote the development of community-based programs, including mental health services, designed to prevent unlawful behavior and to effectively minimize the depth and duration of the juvenile's involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Confidentiality of proceedings in the juvenile justice system is one of the principle ways of protecting the juvenile, promoting rehabilitation, and preventing the juvenile from progressing to the adult criminal system. The broadest state law is one that mandates the confidentiality of all information pertaining to a delinquency proceeding.2 It applies to police records concerning the arrest of a juvenile; all court proceedings, including detention and probation, which are administered by the Judicial Branch; and post-adjudication secure treatment facilities, which are administered by DCF.

A delinquency case often begins with the apprehension by the police of a juvenile suspected of violating the criminal laws. The police may release the juvenile to his or parents and refer the juvenile to a Juvenile Review Board in the community, or if the behavior is deemed serious enough, the police will arrest the juvenile. See Access to Arrest Reports of Juveniles.

The police may not hold a juvenile in an adult jail, but may, under certain circumstances and with court approval, place a juvenile in a detention center. These centers are run by the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) of the Judicial Branch. See Access to Detention Center Records.

After arrest, the juvenile is referred to the juvenile court, where a juvenile probation officer (JPO) serves as the case manager and develops a plan, which may or may not involve a formal court proceeding. See Delinquency Proceedings for more information. Juvenile probation officers are employees of the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch. It maintains a file on every juvenile that is referred to or summoned to court. A JPO prepares studies for the court and supervises juveniles under the jurisdiction of the court. Because these records pertain to a court case, access to the records of JPOs is restricted. See Juvenile Court Records.

If a juvenile is convicted as a delinquent, one option the court has for disposition is to commit the juvenile to DCF for placement in one of DCFs secure treatment facilities. Access to records maintained by DCF pertaining to the juvenile's stay in one of these facilities is governed by the general statute pertaining to DCF records. See Access to DCF Client Records.

 


 

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