NY Bill to Automatically Remove Criminal Records Gains Support

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A New York bill that would remove publicly available criminal records for most felonies and misdemeanor crimes after people have completed the terms of their punishments has garnered support from lawmakers, businesses and labor unions in the state, reports the Wall Street Journal. Entitled the Clean Slate Act, and sponsored by state senator Zellnor Myrie, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn, the law would ease the challenge of finding a job, enrolling in college or leasing an apartment for those who have finished their sentences, and is currently being considered in the state legislature.

There are more than 2.3 million people in New York state with criminal records, according to state officials. The bill has the support of some labor unions and corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, which sent officials to testify at a May 6 hearing on the bill. Around 10 percent of 2,100 new hires made by the company in 2020 had criminal records. State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, a Republican who represents parts of upstate New York, said many lawmakers in his party don’t support the bill. Meanwhile, Bakersfield.com reports that, in 10 states, a dozen bills have been introduced this year that push for automatic clearing, expungement or sealing of criminal records. As of April, at least 11 states have automatic record expungement laws, but eligibility depends on the number of convictions and the type of crime. A 2019 survey from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center found half of the states either do not allow law enforcement access to sealed records for routine law enforcement activity, or restrict law enforcement access to a court order or formal written request.

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