In New York, criminal justice reform advocates have long pushed for the sealing of numerous criminal records to improve employment opportunities for those with prior convictions. Despite significant support within the Democratic majority in the state Assembly, the Clean Slate Act has not yet been brought to a vote.
However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie indicated on Thursday that this may change as early as June, stating that the Assembly will “definitely consider clean slate before the end of session.” Business leaders throughout the state, including major utilities, corporations, and the New York State Business Council, have expressed support for the bill.
Critics argue that sealing criminal records could pose safety risks in the workplace and contradict voters’ concerns about crime in recent years. Proponents, on the other hand, believe that it would reduce recidivism and strengthen a workforce still recovering from the pandemic’s impact.
Heastie emphasized the bill’s benefits to public safety and the workforce, while Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, the Democratic sponsor of the measure, framed the issue as a practical matter related to labor pool expansion and a moral question of providing New Yorkers with a second chance.
Supporters of the Clean Slate Act face a tight deadline, as the current session is set to conclude on June 8. The Clean Slate Coalition, comprised of various organizations backing the proposal, has urged the Assembly and Senate to pass the act, claiming that over 2 million New Yorkers would benefit from an end to the “perpetual punishment” caused by previous convictions.
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