New York State Republicans are pressing for a delay in provisions of the state's new relaxed drug sentencing laws that make it easier for records of convicted drug offenders to be sealed from potential employers, reports the Buffalo News. The records might be opened to entities like school districts that do background checks on prospective employees. Republicans complain that the law will make it easier for convicted drug dealers or users to end up teaching in public schools or caring for people in nursing homes.
Backers say the record-sealing provision, set to take effect Monday, is in keeping with the law’s goals of giving judges more discretion in such matters and giving offenders who seek treatment a chance to get a new start without their past haunting them. Critics say day care centers, schools, hospitals and other settings, however, have a right to know the backgrounds of their potential hires. Record sealing is not automatic. The approval of a judge is needed for any record sealing, and requests can be made by prosecutors, defense attorneys or the drug offender. The new law permits records to be sealed, though they can be viewed by a limited group: the offender, law enforcement agencies, courts, prosecutors, any agency that approves gun licenses and any prospective employer of police or peace officers.