Supporters of a measure that would seal criminal records years after a person has completed their debt to society are planning to continue to press for the provision's approval in New York after it fell out of the state budget talks.
Those supporters range from criminal justice reform organizations, labor unions, business leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul herself, who had backed a version of what's known as the "clean slate" bill in the budget plan.
Ultimately, lawmakers and Hochul could not agree to a budget that included the provision amid disagreement over how long it should take for records to be sealed. Hochul's proposal would seal felony records seven years after a sentence is completed and after three years for misdemeanors. Legislative proposals would seal those records years earlier.
“We - and millions of New Yorkers across the state - are dismayed that Clean Slate was left out of this year’s budget," said a coalition of organizations known as Clean Slate New York that is backing the measure. "Despite tremendous statewide support, the governor missed the opportunity to bring relief to 2.3 million people by insisting on unworkable waiting periods that would have rendered the promise of Clean Slate meaningless."
Supporters of the proposal have argued the bill would make it easier for people who have been convicted of crimes to gain access to housing and employment. Lawmakers last year failed to reach an agreement on similar legislation.
The measure's failure in the state budget talks comes as lawmakers and Hochul have reached an agreement in the spending plan to make changes to New York's 2019 law that ended cash bail requirements for many criminal charges. The move will expand and clarify instances in which cash bail is required to include gun trafficking charges and alleged repeat offenders.
The legislative session is set to run until June 2.
"It is past time to remove barriers to employment, housing and education, and give people the opportunity to fully contribute to their communities and provide for their families," the coalition said. "The ball is now in the Legislature’s court. We call on the Assembly and Senate to pass the Clean Slate Act on the first day back to session and for the governor to make good on her word to get the bill done.”