Proposed Bill Aims To Purge 2.3 Million New Yorkers’ Criminal Records


Newly-proposed laws goals to purge the felony histories of roughly 2.3 million New York state residents with the hopes of enhancing entry to housing and employment alternatives. The “Clear Slate” legislation, launched by State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, would mechanically seal after which expunge convictions for residents who’ve accomplished their sentences and probation, supervised launch, and intercourse offender registration intervals. 

The invoice would cowl most varieties of crimes—starting from misdemeanors to felonies resembling assaults, robberies, and even some murders—although its advantages wouldn’t prolong to these convicted of crimes which maintain them completely on the state’s intercourse offender registry.

“We’ll both be severe about rehabilitation and reintegration or we will probably be a state that’s about everlasting incarceration,” stated Myrie, talking at a press convention saying the initiative. “And so for the tens of millions of New Yorkers which can be dwelling with convictions, we’ll arise for you and we’re going to battle to make this clear slate act our actuality.”

The proposal builds on the instance of the state’s lately handed marijuana decriminalization invoice, which mechanically clears felony histories for these convicted of sure cannabis-related offenses. Throughout the nation, different states have enacted related however extra restricted variations of the “Clear Slate” mannequin, exempting sure felonies and violent crimes from being purged.

Syracuse resident Melissa Agnew is without doubt one of the tens of millions of New Yorkers the invoice is designed to assist. In 1999, Agnew was sentenced to a few years of probation for an assault and weapons cost. Since then, she says she turned her life round, holding down jobs in her native college district and well being division, and even getting a bachelor’s diploma. However the penalties of her conviction linger many years later.

I’ve utilized for jobs that I’m extremely certified for and have been rejected due to my report,” she stated on the press convention. “I’m a single mother of three. I maintain my aged mom, and if you can’t transfer up the ladder at work, it is laborious to earn extra assist for your loved ones.”

For Latino and Black residents like herself, Agnew argues that felony histories exacerbate racial discrimation, particularly from landlords and employers.

What I’ve achieved for the previous 22 years, , doesn’t matter to them. They don’t have a look at me as holistically,” she stated.

New York already has an application-based course of for sealing felony histories. However advocates argue the method is just not accessible, typically requiring the help of authorized counsel. Lower than 0.5% of those that are estimated to be eligible for the present course of have had their information erased, in line with The Middle for Neighborhood Alternate options, one of many teams pushing for the invoice.

New York’s Republican leaders argue the proposal goes method too far. 

“That is one other instance of laws beneath the guise of ‘reform’ that may result in much less protected communities,” stated GOP Senate Minority Chief Robert Ortt. “How does concealing this info defend susceptible people from encountering doubtlessly violent offenders at work or at house? Our convention will proceed to concentrate on proposals that restore widespread sense and public security.”

Republican Meeting chief William Barclay says his caucus would possibly go for a extra average model of the laws, as has been handed in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. 

“If they’d sure carve-outs, in all probability many on our facet of the aisle could be extra prone to assist one thing like this,” he stated. 

However, he insisted, landlords and companies ought to have a proper to learn about severe crimes for which potential tenants or staff have been convicted. 

“The truth that they dedicated these crimes might have bearing on whether or not they get the job or whether or not they’re able to lease the home or the house,” Barclay stated. “I don’t assume that’s illegitimate for somebody to know that.”

Proper now, the laws is within the codes committees of the State Senate and Meeting. Advocates hope Albany will vote on it earlier than this legislative session ends in June.