New York state is offering pardons for some former offenders who committed a nonviolent crime when they were 16 or 17 and have stayed conviction-free for at least 10 years. Anyone convicted of a sex crime does not qualify, and pardons can be withdrawn if the recipient is re-convicted. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the first group of 101 pardons on Dec. 30, after creating the youth pardon program in 2015, NPR reports.
About 10,000 people could benefit from the program, according to an estimate from the governor’s office. So far, it’s received 260 applications. Retaining conviction records serves “no good public safety function, and yet they really make it even more difficult for people to readjust to the community once they’ve completed their prison term,” says Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project. He says New York’s program could serve as a model for other states, including North Carolina. That’s the only other state like New York that charges 16- and 17-year-olds for all crimes not as juveniles, but as adults.