Convicted criminals in New York will now have their records sealed after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law the “Clean State Act” on Thursday.
The controversial proposal would seal old criminal records as long as the perpetrators remain out of trouble for a certain number of years.
Under the new law in New York, a person’s felony records would be sealed eight years after conviction or release from prison; three years for a misdemeanor.
Sex crimes and most Class A felonies, such as kidnapping or terrorism, will not be eligible for the program. The bill excludes class A felonies for drug possession.
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During the signing of the controversial law, Gov. Hochul hailed the program for its potential to fight rising crime.
“The best crime-fighting tool is a good-paying job,” Hochul said at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday morning. “That’s why I support giving New Yorkers a clean slate after they’ve paid their debt to society and gone years without an additional offense.”
Melinda Agnew with the Center for Community Alternative said that the legislation will change lives.
“Twenty-six years after successfully completing my sentence, despite all that I have accomplished, I continue to have doors closed in my face,” said Agnew.
The law, which will go into effect in one year, will still allow law enforcement, prosecutors, the Education Department, the courts and others to have access to perpetrators’ records.
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“I negotiated a compromise that protects public safety and boosts economic opportunity, and the final Clean Slate Law will help New Yorkers access jobs and housing while allowing police, prosecutors and school officials to protect their communities,” Hochul said.
The governor said that the law hopes to address the worker shortage plaguing New York.
“And as our state faces a worker shortage, with more than 450,000 job openings right now, this new law will help businesses find more workers who will help them grow, expand and thrive,” Hochul said.
The bill was passed by state lawmakers last June on a party-line vote.
Former New York Democratic Gov. David Paterson has denounced the law, saying that that while he thinks the “intent” was positive, he believes the measure is misguided.
“In theory, it works. But one of the problems we have in the state right now is you have people getting arrested 40, 50, 60 times. When that kind of thing happens, there can never be a clean slate because they were never more than six months away from their previous conviction,” he said on the “Cats Roundtable” WABC 770 AM radio show in June.
Gov. Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Yael Halon contributed to this report.
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