Clean Slate Act gains momentum as New York Assembly Speaker pledges support

May 4, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The Clean Slate NY coalition praised Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for his public commitment to the Clean Slate Act, urging the legislature to pass the bill before the end of the current legislative session. The Clean Slate Act aims to end perpetual punishment for over 2 million New Yorkers, create stronger and safer communities, and boost the state’s economy.

“We will definitely consider Clean Slate before the end of session…It helps public safety,” Heastie acknowledged. “It helps deal with the issues of a workforce. So I think there’s more understanding now of the benefits of Clean Slate.”

The bill has gained support from labor leaders, businesses, and Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Verizon and JP Morgan Chase.

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The Clean Slate Act addresses systemic barriers to jobs and housing posed by old conviction records. A Harvard Law Review study found that within two years of clearing their records under Michigan law, people were 11 percent more likely to have a job, were earning 25 percent more, and were less likely to be convicted of a crime.

An estimated annual earnings boost of $7.1 billion to New York State would result from the legislation, which has garnered unprecedented support across the state. Fifteen cities and counties have passed resolutions in support of the Clean Slate Act, including New York City, Buffalo, Westchester, and Albany city and county.

The Clean Slate Act would seal old conviction records, allowing people to access housing, education, and most jobs, with exceptions for law enforcement and work with vulnerable populations. Misdemeanor convictions would seal after three years and felony convictions after seven years, as long as someone is off parole or probation and has no new charges or convictions. Sex offenses would not be eligible for sealing.

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