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Penn's crime log violates Pennsylvania Juvenile Act


College campuses in the Philadelphia area see many crimes committed each month. Crimes such as theft, underage drinking and disorderly conduct are reported to the police on a routine basis. While many of the crimes minors allegedly commit are the same ones as adults, minors are given special rights under the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act.

One of these special rights is that the identities of minors cannot be disclosed to the public, except if the minor is over 14 and committed the equivalent of a felony. However, since at least 2009, the Division of Public Safety at Penn issued a PDF each month disclosing the identities of everyone charged with a crime around the campus. For the identities of minors, the PDF would use white ink so it could not be seen by the naked eye. However, this did not prevent people from being able to copy and paste the text or from searching for the minors' names through Internet search engines.

So, for at least 30 days, anyone could search the minor's name and see whether that person had been charged with a crime, even misdemeanor level crimes. This is in direct violation of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act. It creates a situation where potential employers could see that the minor had been charged with a crime and ultimately decide not to hire that young person. This is particularly troubling since the report includes everyone who was simply arrested and not just those convicted of a crime.

While minors do have some special protections, juvenile crimes still carry serious consequences. Many times the long-term consequences are actually the worse than the immediate ones. For example, a first time conviction for underage drinking carries a 90 day suspension of a minor's driving privileges, but having a criminal record can have a negative impact when filling out job and school applications, seriously affecting a person's future. This is why it is important not to disclose the identity of minors who have been arrested.

Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian, "Campus crime log disclosed identities of minors," Will Marble, Sept. 11, 2013

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