New York’s Democratic-held state legislature passed a bill late Friday evening that automatically seals most criminal records.
The “Clean Slate Act” seals the conviction record of those charged with a misdemeanor after three years since they were released from incarceration, and seals the criminal record of those charged with a felony after eight years. The state legislature passed the bill just before midnight on the last day of the already-extended legislative session, and awaits the signing of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, according to a press release.
“Clean Slate offers a genuine second chance to individuals who have fully paid their debt to society, enabling them to restart their lives and become positive contributors to their communities,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “By passing Clean Slate, we affirm our belief in redemption and improve our society by providing formerly incarcerated individuals a better opportunity to enter the workforce and establish stable lives.”
The bill allows for some exceptions, with Class A felonies that could warrant life in prison sentences, like terrorism, murder, kidnapping and some sex crimes, not qualifying to be sealed.
“I’m deeply proud to serve in a legislative body that recognizes the economic, moral and public safety imperatives for passing Clean Slate,” said bill sponsor Democratic Sen. Zellnor Myrie. “This legislation makes it clear that New Yorkers who have served their sentences and returned to the community owe no other debts before they can rebuild their lives, obtain housing and education, and secure gainful employment.
— New York State Senate (@NYSenate) June 10, 2023
Proponents of the bill claim it will give New Yorkers with a criminal record the chance to re-join society more easily, with it’s opponents arguing it will make the state less safe.
“This law is completely irresponsible,” said state Republican Rep. Mike Tannousis. “When are we finally going to hold criminals accountable for their actions? I have been here for three years, and have yet to see the day. Let’s hope it comes soon before the rest of the New Yorkers that still live in this state flee.”
The passage of the bill comes as New York City saw a 22% rise in major crimes like burglary and robbery in 2022.
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