Lawmakers, advocates push for ‘clean slate’ bill to expunge some convictions

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Democratic lawmakers joined advocacy groups via Zoom Thursday, on what they called a “Second Chance Advocacy Day” in Albany. The panel discussed Senate Bill S1553A/Assembly Bill A6399, relating to the automatic expungement of certain convictions.

The bill, known as “clean slate” legislation, would establish a process of automatically sealing and later automatically expunging conviction records once a person has served their sentence.

The measure is meant to make it easier for someone who has served their time to get back on their feet. For a misdemeanor to be expunged, at least five years must have passed since the imposition of the sentence, and at least seven years for a felony.

It would not apply to registered sex offenders or people with pending criminal charges.

“It is common sense policy that promotes justice, stability, and safety for all – and its passage is more important than ever right now as New York faces the uphill battle of recovery from COVID. The State introduced conviction sealing through a 2017 law, but because it requires individual applications, fewer than .5% of eligible individuals have benefitted. Records clearance remains out of reach for most New Yorkers, worsening racial and economic inequality. We have the opportunity now to reverse course by ensuring more New Yorkers can access relief, and that all those who can benefit will – automatically,” stated the Clean Slate New York coalition.

You can read the bill in its entirety here.

“If we are going to allege that this is about restorative justice, if we are going to really do that, then when those folks come out and have done their time, then we need to give them the opportunity to rebuild their lives,” said bill sponsor Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D).

“This is about fairness, this is about the right thing to do, and it’s also the economically sound thing to do,” said bill sponsor Senator Zellnor Myrie (D).

Similar Clean Slate laws have passed in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

New York Lawmakers recently passed legislation to allow adult-use recreational marijuana across the state. The new law expunges criminal records for previous marijuana convictions.

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