ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — For years, advocates have been pushing for The Clean Slate Act, a bill that would automatically seal criminal records three years after sentencing for misdemeanors and after seven years for felonies. It would not apply to sex crimes. Our Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige spoke with those for and against the bill.
“I don’t want anyone to ever forget who they were and what they did to my child, to my family. They took my son away from me, they took my son away from my husband, they took a brother away from three other brothers,” said Donna Nolan, who’s son Mike Nolan was murdered at 23 years old in a drive-by shooting in Yonkers in 2015. Four people were involved in his murder, and one has completely served his jail time.
Nolan says Victims Rights New York and other organizations have had many conversations with lawmakers discussing opposition to the bill. “They can’t just make it about low-level, crimes, misdemeanors. I get that some people make a mistake, they go to jail. They do their time, they didn’t harm anyone, and they learn. Not when it comes to taking someone’s life,” she said.
Advocates of the bill, like Lukee Forbes say existing criminal records make it nearly impossible for those who were previously incarcerated to get a job or proper housing. Forbes was 15 years old when he was convicted of being an accomplice to an assault. He served seven years and said his felony still haunts him today. “I was denied housing multiple times because of my felony, and this is something that not only hinders me, but I know there’s so many other families that are separated, due to people having felonies in the household, and not being able to return back to said household,” said Forbes.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said this is a bill the Democrats will continue to push for, “You can’t have endless payment, repayment of your debt to society. At some point, you should be allowed to be expected as someone who is willing to move forward and contribute, and that’s what we want.” The last day of session is scheduled for June 8th. We’ll keep you updated on how the legislature votes on Clean Slate.