New York Gov. Signs Clean Slate Act, Allowing Sealing of Eligible Criminal Convictions

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed a bill to allow for the sealing of eligible misdemeanor convictions after three years and certain felony convictions after eight years, following the candidates’ release from incarceration.

Full story after the jump.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Thursday signed a bill that allows the sealing of eligible misdemeanor convictions after three years and certain felony convictions after eight years, following their release from incarceration.  

During a signing ceremony for the Clean Slate Act, Hochul said the new law “will help New Yorkers access jobs and housing while allowing police, prosecutors and school officials to protect their communities.”

“The best crime-fighting tool is a good-paying job. That’s why I support giving New Yorkers a clean slate after they’ve paid their debt to society and gone years without an additional offense. … And as our state faces a worker shortage, with more than 450,000 job openings right now, this new law will help businesses find more workers who will help them grow, expand and thrive.” — Hochul via ABC 7 NY 

The move was lauded by law enforcement officials, business and labor leaders, state and local lawmakers, and civil rights advocates. 

In a statement, Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, called the bill’s final approval by the governor “a momentous day for the state of New York.”    

“We know some will do their best to stand in the way of economic and racial justice. They will try to stoke fear and create needless panic. We will not let them,” he said. “The best way to keep communities and New Yorkers safe is by allowing people who have paid their debt to society to rebuild their lives and care for their families. Governor Hochul is creating a brighter – and safer – future for New York.” 

Hazel Dukes, president of the New York chapter of the NAACP called the move “a landmark step forward” for the state.  

“Overincarceration has destroyed far too many communities of color,” Dukes said in a statement. “And even worse, that damage lingers when those who paid their debt in full are still blocked from finding a job or a place for their families to live.” 

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman added that the bill “will benefit millions of New Yorkers who are currently trapped in cycles of poverty and punishment for a past criminal conviction.”  

“It will help address the harm done by decades of racist over-policing that targeted Black and Brown communities and remove a significant barrier to employment, housing, and other necessities that formerly incarcerated New Yorkers need to re-enter society and rebuild their lives with dignity,” she said in a statement. “Albany lawmakers must build on this reform to provide more protections for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.” 

The bill takes effect in one year. Hochul’s office said that it will take the State Office of Court Administration up to three years to implement the processes necessary to identify and seal all eligible records. 

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