The Clean Slate Act is a landmark legislation that was passed by the New York state legislature on June 10, 2023. The bill aims to provide a second chance for millions of New Yorkers who have criminal records by automatically sealing them after a certain period of time. The bill applies to most misdemeanors and felonies, except for some serious crimes such as murder, terrorism, kidnapping and some sex crimes. The bill also excludes drug-related felonies from sealing.
According to the bill’s sponsors, the Clean Slate Act will help people with criminal records overcome barriers to employment, housing, education and other opportunities. They argue that the bill will enhance public safety by reducing recidivism and promoting reintegration. They also claim that the bill will address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, as people of color are disproportionately affected by criminal records.
However, the bill has also faced opposition from some lawmakers and law enforcement groups, who say that it will endanger public safety by hiding important information from employers, landlords and the general public. They contend that the bill will undermine accountability and transparency in the criminal justice system, and that it will create confusion and inconsistency in the legal process.
The bill still requires the approval of Governor Kathy Hochul, who has not indicated whether she will sign it or not. If signed into law, the Clean Slate Act will make New York the first state in the nation to implement automatic record sealing for most criminal convictions.