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A Last-Minute Push For Clean Slate In New York

NEW YORK NOW - Supporters of the proposed “Clean Slate” bill were outside of the State Capitol on Thursday to advocate for its passage before the end of session next week.

The Clean Slate proposal would automatically expunge a person’s criminal record after they’ve finished parole, with exceptions made for registered sex offenders.

Cedric Fulton of the Hudson-Catskill Housing Coalition, who led Thursday’s rally, said that in order to reintegrate into society through education, work, and housing, the removal of barriers created by a criminal record is necessary.

“We need to support the 2.3 million New Yorkers that have been affected with a lifetime ban, because they missed their mark,” Fulton said.

The Albany event was one of five simultaneous rallies happening in various parts of the state. The others were in New York City, Buffalo, Long Island, and Rochester.

Senate Sponsor Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, has previously said that expungement needs to be automatic to increase participation and avoid a lengthy process that could deter some applicants.

But the bill isn’t without opponents from both the left and the right.

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt told New York NOW last month that there are some crimes the public needs to know about.

“I’m the manager at a bank, I’m looking to hire somebody. I can’t know if this person stole money in his previous job, or her previous job,” Ortt said.

“Don’t you think that’s a necessary thing for me to know before I employ them back in the financial sector?”

Albany County District Attorney David Soares, a Democrat, has also been critical of the proposal. He’s said that while registered sex offenders don’t qualify, the bill doesn’t take the specifics of certain cases into account.

“We may offer a misdemeanor plea with sex offender conditions, if we don’t want to put a victim through the trauma of having to take the stand and conduct one of those proceedings,” Soares said.

“If we decided to go from a D felony or E felony to a misdemeanor, right now, if they pass this piece of legislation as-is, those would be the cases that would be expunged … and that individual could be employed somewhere down the line working with youth.”

With about a week left of session, the bill is currently in the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Codes Committee.