People who were convicted of a crime when they were under the age of 19, but denied youthful offender status at the time, will be able to re-apply for it under a measure approved Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Youthful offender status in New York gives people convicted of a crime to have the record replaced by a confidential, non-criminal adjudication and reduced prison sentence.
"Far too many New Yorkers who made poor choices at a young age are forced to deal with the lifelong consequences of criminal convictions that deny them a second chance at a productive, fulfilling life," Hochul said. "Communities thrive when every member has the opportunity to contribute and it's time for New York to make the changes necessary for ensuring everybody has a fair shot at success. Thanks to this legislation, we can now support those who have learned from their mistakes by doing away with the stigma of a criminal conviction, and giving them the opportunity to get back on their feet."
Criminal justice reform advocates, who cheered the law's approval, have pointed to what could be long-lasting effects of a criminal record, including limiting access to job opportunities.
“Youth should not have to shoulder the consequences of a criminal conviction for a lifetime, and these punitive laws only hurt our communities rather than keeping them safe," said Tina Luongo of the Legal Aid Society. Creating lifelong barriers for behavior that has been shown, for the most part, to be time-limited is an unnecessarily harsh consequence for young people and fails to support true community safety.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman.