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Monday, May 1, 2006
Bill Text – S07669
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STATE OF NEW YORK
April 25, 2006
Introduced by Sen. NOZZOLIO –read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction
AN ACT to amend the correction law, in relation to certificates of relief from disabilities issued by the board of parole
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
EXPLANATION—Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
SUBJECT: PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO CORRECTION LAW § 703
Under federal and state law, former felons are subject to myriad civil disabilities. These
include the loss of the right to serve on a jury, ineligibility for public office, inability to possess
handguns, and restrictions on employment Felons are barred from obtaining professional or
occupational licenses without a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD), preventing them from
holding positions ranging from garbage collector to private investigator or real estate broker. A CRD
is only obtainable by first offenders.
Currently, in order to seek relief from state-imposed disabilities, federal felons residing within New York must apply to the NY State Board of Parole. See In re C.P. Ward, Inc., 707 N.Y.S.2d 605 (N. Y.Co.Ct 2000) (finding that state courts may not grant relief from disabilities to federal felons but noting that federal felons may apply for relief at the state board of parole). Section 703 of the Correction Law provides that the board of parole “shall have the power to issue a certificate of relief from disabilities” to, inter alia, “any eligible offender who resides within [New York] and whose judgment of conviction was rendered by a court in any other jurisdiction.”
The current scheme sets up “a curious inequality of opportunity between state and federal criminal offenders” disadvantaging federal offenders where state rights are concerned. See MARGARET Colgate Love, Starting Over With a Clean Slate: In Praise of a Forgotten Section of the Model Penal Code, 30 FORDHAM Urb. L. J. 1705 (July 2003); See also UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Civil Disabilities of Convicted Felons: A State by State Survey, at ii (October 1996), available at, http://www.usdoj.gov/pardon/forms/state_survey.pdf. (“The disabilities imposed upon felons under state law generally are assumed to apply with the same force [to federal felons]…[however] state laws dealing with restoration of rights do not always address how federal felons’ rights may be regained.”).
Federal felons – where virtually every sentence includes a period of supervised release by the federal probation office following any period of incarceration – must now apply to an unfamiliar state agency for relief from state-imposed civil disabilities. This is an arduous and time consuming process. Currently, the board of parole takes 12-15 months to process an application for relief. The federal probation office has estimated that it would be able to process such applications in 6-8 weeks, Further, it is beyond peradventure that the federal probation office will be more familiar with the federal offender and has easy access to his or her relevant records.
Therefore we propose to amend N.Y. Corrections Law § 703 (2003) as follows:
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows;
Section 1. Section 703 of the correction law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7 to read as follows:
7.Where a certificate of relief from disabilities is sought pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision one of this section on a judgment of conviction rendered by a federal court in this state, and the board of parole is in receipt of a written recommendation in favor of the issuance of such certificate from the chief probation officer of the federal district where such conviction was obtained, the board shall, provided such recommendation is based upon a finding by the federal probation office in such district that following its investigation of the applicant the requirements of paragraphs (a). (b). and (c) of subdivision three of this section have been satisfied, issue the requested certificate.
Such amendment would allow federal probation offices attached to the four United States District courts within the State of New York to process CRD applications from federal offenders. This change would reduce the backlog of applications at the state board of parole, place the issuance of CRDs for federal felons in the hands of more familiar probation officers, promote greater efficiency in granting said Certificates from state-imposed disabilities, and save money for the overworked state parole board.