“Systemic inequalities are not justified. And so, to the extent that I’m able, I need to represent the people affected by those inequalities,” says Steve Pick, Senior Attorney in LAF’s Children and Families Practice Group.
One way Steve represents those people is through juvenile expungement. A juvenile criminal record can follow an individual through adulthood, often presenting significant barriers to employment, housing, and education. “It’s important for people with juvenile records to realize that they don’t have to be forever marked by what they may have done as a child or an adolescent. These expungement laws are a message that society wants to give them a fresh start,” he says.
Sadly, only 3 out of every 1000 juvenile arrests in Illinois are expunged. And according to the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, this may be in part due to law enforcement agencies’ neglect to inform individuals of their right to seek expungement. Fortunately, LAF partnered with Cabrini Green Legal Aid to establish the Juvenile Expungement Help Desk, where attorneys like Steve help individuals file for expungement, and even provide representation in court.
“You can’t say that there’s equal justice under the law unless people have access to the courts, and access to professional counsel. Legal aid makes the system better—more just,” Steve says. Support equal justice by making a tax-deductible donation to LAF at www.lafchicago.org.