State lawmakers and criminal justice advocates are backing legislation that would expunge some criminal records and convictions that are seen as a hurdle to employment, housing, and health care for people who have served their punishment.
"We are all more than the worst thing we've ever done. But today, hundreds of thousands of people with criminal records have no idea if this is the day they might lose their job, their home, their access to healthcare or education," said Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Democratic lawmaker sponsoring the bill. "These people are our friends, neighbors, and family members."
The measure is part of a "Clean Slate" campaign, with the goal of sealing and eventually expunging records of some convictions.
There would be exceptions: Defendents cannot have a pending criminal charge in New York, cannot be currently on probation or parole for the eligible conviction and the defendant is not required to register as a sex offender in the state.
But for people who have criminal convictions, the records can create hurdles to moving on with their lives.
It's estimated people with convictions and serve time in prison lose $484,400 in earnings during their lifetime.
“As part of our ongoing pursuit of true criminal justice reform, we must focus on human dignity, fairness, and guaranteeing that individuals are not punished beyond their sentences," said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz. "We must eliminate the collateral damage created by past conviction records. The Clean Slate Act ensures that people have the opportunity to fully and fairly participate in society."