This summer, the New York Legislature passed the Clean Slate Act. Once the governor signs this bill, New York will join states as diverse as California, Utah, South Dakota, Connecticut and Pennsylvania that automatically seal many criminal conviction records after a set period of time.
The passage of Clean Slate legislation affirms New York’s commitment to economic opportunity for those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Importantly, it also expands the talent pool from which employers can draw. Currently many industries, including retail, hospitality, and health care, are experiencing a labor shortage. Clean Slate opens the door to job-seekers who might previously have been shut out simply on the basis of having served time.
Conviction records have been a barrier to more than employment. Reports show that more than 2.1 million people across New York State have a record of criminal convictions. These New Yorkers face thousands of barriers and discriminatory laws when trying to obtain a job, a license, or a home. It is no surprise then that people with conviction histories face massive loss of income and high levels of poverty and homelessness. In a vicious cycle, these negative consequences drive rearrests and new convictions by preventing fair and effective reentry into our communities and economy.