Edited Nov. 20 to improve attribution and clarity. BY JIMMY LAWTON North Country This Week Three Republican state representatives are raising concerns over freshly signed “Clean Slate” …
Edited Nov. 20 to improve attribution and clarity.
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
Three Republican state representatives are raising concerns over freshly signed “Clean Slate” legislation, which will broaden the allowances for sealing criminal records.
Both state Senator Dan Stec (R,C-Queensbury) and Sen. Mark Walczyk, (R-Watertown), along with Assemblyman Scott Gray (R-Watertown) have all issued statements aimed at Gov. Kathy Hochul who signed it into law Nov. 16
The legislation would automatically seal certain criminal records after a required waiting period – three years after conviction or release from jail for a misdemeanor and eight years after conviction or release from prison for a felony – provided they have maintained a clean record and are no longer on probation or parole.
Proponents of the measure say it was enacted to protect public safety and ensure the state is “sealing the records of people who have truly committed to turning their lives around, there are instances where people will not be eligible for sealing. Those with pending criminal charges, who are required to register as a sex offender, who received a life sentence, or who have been convicted of a class A felony – like murder – are ineligible to have their records sealed under Clean Slate,” a statement from the New York State Assembly says.
Detractors says it compromises public safety and have gone as far as to call the act “pro-criminal.”
Although records will be sealed, legislation provides access to otherwise sealed records for certain necessary and relevant purposes, including law enforcement purposes, licensing or employment for specific industries where a criminal background check is required to be performed employment where a fingerprint-based background is performed, extending employment to a person in jobs where they may work with such groups as children, the elderly or other vulnerable populations, when an individual is seeking a gun license and when seeking a commercial driver’s license, or where required for public housing.
North Country representatives however, say it goes too far.
“Time and again, Democrat leadership has advanced a pro-criminal agenda. These policies are widely unpopular and have been proven to increase crime in New York State. I’m proud to back common-sense public safety reforms that protect communities and crime victims and gives law enforcement the resources it needs to save lives. At a time when we must put the safety of our law-abiding residents first, the Governor and Legislature have yet again ignored that urgent priority,” Walczyk said.
Gray voiced his opposition of what he described as “pro-criminal policies.”
“While I firmly believe in supporting the process of rehabilitation for individuals with criminal records, I have concerns about the potential implications and unintended consequences of this particular legislation. Any legislation related to sealing convictions should be approached with caution and thoughtful consideration of its long-term effects,” Gray said.
Stec said he is outraged and concerned over the safety of law-abiding residents after Governor Hochul signed the controversial law.
“First it was bail reform. Now it’s Clean Slate. Once again, one-party Democratic rule has chosen to put criminals ahead of the needs of law-abiding New Yorkers,” he said. “With Clean Slate, residents won’t have the ability to know if there’s a convicted violent offender in their neighborhoods. Renters and business owners won’t have the full information they need when making these important decisions.
The law will take effect on Nov. 16, 2024 the Office of Court Administration will have up to three years to seal conviction records that were eligible before the law went into effect.