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New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed the "Clean Slate Act" into law on Thursday. The new legislation seals the criminal records of former convicts when applying for employment and housing.
Hochul touted the act as a way to get former convicts back into the workforce, stating that the "best crime-fighting tool is a good-paying job." The governor noted that her top priority is to "keep people safe."
"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 continued. "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."
Criminals who commit misdemeanor offenses, including disorderly conduct, larceny, and vandalism, will have their criminal records sealed after three years. Felons who were convicted of money laundering, insurance fraud, or compelling prostitution will have their records sealed after eight years. Individuals who commit another offense between those time frames will not be eligible to have their records sealed.
"The clock restarts altogether if parole or probation is revoked or if there is a new conviction," Hochul's office noted. "Employers permitted by law to perform fingerprint-based criminal history checks on job applicants will continue to receive those records and use them to determine whether individuals should be hired."
Law enforcement and the criminal justice system will still have full access to the criminal records.
Class A felonies, including murder, predatory sexual assault, terrorism, arson, and kidnapping, are not eligible to be sealed under the new legislation.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R) slammed the act, calling it the "latest step in the wrong direction."
"This is yet another pro-criminal, misguided policy from the people intent on dismantling law and order and removing individual accountability," he stated.
Barclay wrote on X Thursday that he is "in favor of second chance" but noted that the Clean Slate Act is "a recipe for tragedy" because it "automatically" hides an individual's criminal history.
Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President Lou Civello also spoke out against the legislation, stating that it "certainly demoralizes your law enforcement officers."
"I think there's a force magnifier, when you have law after law, that emboldens criminals ... that tells criminals they are not accountable for their actions," Civello added.
The legislation is slated to take effect in one year.
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Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.