The New York County Lawyers Association Criminal Justice Committee issued this statement:
The Criminal Justice Committee of New York County Lawyers Association joins in the exhilaration of many invested groups in the New York State’s Clean Slate legislation becoming the law of our state with Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature today, November 16, 2023. By signing the bill into law, Governor Hochul clearly demonstrated her understanding and her support for New Yorkers with criminal convictions, especially those who have not committed any other criminal acts for years and who long to be productive members of our communities and the State of New York.
Before today, the lack of automatic and timely sealing of many criminal convictions prevented millions of New Yorkers true opportunities to start fresh even after periods of incarceration, probation, or parole. In effect, New York prevented the individuals from fully participating in the benefits of New York Statehood since such convictions served as automatic bars or as hidden barriers to success in their attempts to reintegrate into society. Moreover, such rigidity in the sentencing structure and lack of legislative mechanism for sealing such convictions created a figurative“ Scarlet Letter” that followed such individuals for long periods of time, often creating economic barriers to financial security for such individuals and their families.
The time for New York to lead the way in thinking about rehabilitation and incorporating citizens back into becoming contributors to our state was long overdue – and we are ecstatic that New York has finally made the leap forward.
About the New York County Lawyers Association
The New York County Lawyers Association was founded in 1908 as one of the first major bar associations in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence, including through the work of its many committees that provide in-depth analysis and insight into legal practice areas. The views expressed are those of the Criminal Justice Committee only and approved for dissemination by the President; these views have not been approved by the New York County Lawyers Association Board of Directors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Board.
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