(AmericanProsperity.com) – New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law on November 16 that allows New Yorkers who complete their prison sentences to have their criminal records sealed. The law states that those who completed their sentences need to stay out of trouble for a period of time before receiving the benefit. With the law, New York joins Michigan, New Jersey, and California as other states in the country that passed similar measures over the last few years.
The so-called “clean slate” bill, which, represents the latest criminal justice legislation signed by Hochul, will seal most criminal records eight years after serving parole for felony convictions and three for a misdemeanor. Sex crimes and murder won’t be eligible for sealing.
During a press conference at the Brooklyn Museum, following the bill signing, Hochul told reporters that those who completed their prison sentence have already “paid their debt to society.” She explained she decided to sign the bill as a way to “correct the injustice” of having barriers to jobs and housing after doing time behind bars.
According to a Data Collaborative for Justice study, nearly 2.5 million people have criminal convictions in New York. The John Jay College’s research center explained that its study was based on people who had convictions in the state from 1980 to 2021.
Many Republicans have opposed the legislation, as they have pointed to an existing sealing statute in the state for criminal convictions. Some GOP lawmakers have claimed that the statute allows people to apply to get their criminal records sealed, depending on whether they’re repeat offenders, or on the type of conviction they received.
In a statement, New York Republican Senator Jake Ashby explained that New Yorkers are already in a state of “deserving” second chances, as judges can seal records if they consider it appropriate. He added that what Hochul did will have negative consequences for the state, as New York is facing a rise in “bigoted violence” and antisemitism, and and employers won’t know if someone applying for a job committed a hate crime.
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