After passing out of the Finance Committee of the New York State Senate on Tuesday, a revised measure known as the Clean Slate Act that would provide those with criminal convictions the ability to hide their records from the public eye may soon become law in New York.
If adopted, this law will remove barriers caused by the past and make it simpler for individuals to seek housing and employment.
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Senator Jamaal Bailey stated, “Once you’ve atoned for these mistakes, you should be able to move forward and make yourself and your families whole,” He added, “You want to stop people from committing crimes, give them a job. You want to make sure you keep people off the street, give them a job.”
As long as there are no more arrests for the offender, the Clean Slate Act would automatically seal any convictions for crimes other than sexual offenses.
Seven years after sentencing or being released from prison, records for offenses that lasted more than a year would be sealed. Three years after punishment or release, criminal records would be sealed.
The bill is now up for consideration once more by state lawmakers after being approved by the Senate but not put to a vote in the Assembly last year. The plan was discussed by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, and now that it has been approved, the whole Senate will vote on it.
Advocates contend that sealing records would provide many of the approximately 2.3 million New Yorkers with criminal histories with a necessary second opportunity, putting a stop to what amounts to “permanent punishment” for people who are turned down for jobs or housing due to their pasts.
Clean Slate NY noted in a statement, “The passage of the Clean Slate Act out of the Senate Finance Committee and onto the Senate floor underscores the continued momentum for this urgent and historic bill in lead-up to the State Budget.”
“We applaud the Committee and Chairwoman Senator Liz Krueger for advancing legislation that will boost the state’s economic growth, help businesses hire employees, allow people to support their families, and increase community safety. … We urge the legislature and Governor Hochul to pass Clean Slate immediately and bring relief to New Yorkers who have been excluded from economic opportunity, stable housing, and higher education for far too long.”
Republicans oppose the Clean Slate Act because they believe that keeping criminal records secret might put the public at risk. However, the Business Council of New York State, a typical Republican political ally, has advocated in favor of the law and asserted that it will reduce job barriers and assist address a labor shortage. Several significant firms and labor unions support it as well.
According to recent research, the Clean Slate Act, if implemented, would increase New York State’s yearly profits by an estimated $7.1 billion. Additionally, a number of Fortune 500 corporations and unions that represent over 2 million workers support the legislation.