Gov. Hochul signs Clean Slate Act into law

Members of the New York State Assembly share thoughts on new legislation
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 3:59 PM EST
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ALBANY, NY (WBNG) -- Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation Thursday morning that she said gives those with a criminal record a second chance.

The “Clean Slate Act” will seal certain criminal records following a person’s release from incarceration. Eligible misdemeanor convictions will be sealed for three years after the release and eligible felony convictions will be sealed after eight years after release.

However, the sealing of the records is on the condition that the individual convicted of the offense has not committed any additional crimes. Governor Hochul said the new law will allow people who have been in prison to get better jobs, housing and education.

“We’re not going to continue to judge people by their worst moments in life when they’ve paid their debt,” said Hochul. “We’ll have that pathway for change and for growth and renewal.”

Hochul noted that one in eight New Yorkers have faced the obstacles of being formally incarcerated. She said the issue has particularly affected people of color.

Meanwhile, in the state legislature, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D, 123) applauded the governor for signing the bill.

“Once a person has paid their debt to society, they will now be able to better access employment, housing, and education without the discrimination that comes from old conviction records,” Lupardo said. “The NYS Business Council, the AFL-CIO, representatives from law enforcement, and others supported people re-entering the workforce, at a time when we are in desperate need of workers.”

Yet, the signing of the bill drew ire from some members of the assembly, including Republican Joe Angelino (R, 121), who called the new law dangerous. He said it put law-abiding citizens in harm’s way.

“With the Clean Slate Act now law, businesses will no longer be able to fully vet potential employees to see if they have committed violent crimes. Just imagine an organization that you trust such as a bank, which handles your money, wouldn’t you want the bank to know if they are hiring someone with a history of fraud, larceny or robbery?” said Angelino. “Unfortunately, radical progressives who control Albany don’t think you should have that right. Well guess what, I do, and I am disgusted the governor decided to side with the radical left and criminals over hardworking New Yorkers.”

The Clean Slate Act will not seal the records of people who have been convicted of sex crimes, murder or other non-drug related class A felonies. Law enforcement, prosecutors, the New York State Education Department, courts and other groups will continue to have access to all criminal records under the law. Assemblywoman Lupardo emphasized these points when declaring her support of the bill.

Angelino said, that despite opposing this law, he is not against people earning a second chance. He said his opposition to the law is due to his concerns over public safety.

The law does not go into effect until Nov. 16, 2024.