Governor Kathy Hochul is set to sign the long-debated Clean Slate Act next week, automatically sealing the criminal records of millions of New Yorkers after specific time periods following their sentencing.
Invitations for the bill signing have been sent out, marking a significant step in the years-long Democratic effort in Albany for criminal justice reform.
The legislation, which applies to approximately 2.3 million individuals, will automatically seal misdemeanor records three years after sentencing and felony records eight years after release from prison. Exclusions include class A felonies and crimes requiring sex offender registration. For eligibility, individuals must not be on probation or parole and should have no pending charges.
Sources reveal that the bill signing event is scheduled for next Thursday, as reported by City & State. While Governor Hochul, currently in Puerto Rico, did not commit to the bill, she acknowledged hearing strong support from business entities for the initiative.
Assembly sponsor Catalina Cruz refrained from commenting on the matter. The Clean Slate Act, having passed both legislative chambers in June, has been awaiting the governor’s signature. Despite routine approval in the state Senate, it faced hurdles in the Assembly. The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York urged Governor Hochul to veto the measure.
The legislation encountered resistance from Republican lawmakers, who argue it poses risks to public safety. While some express support for the idea of sealing certain records, they contend that the current legislation goes too far. If signed, New York will become the 11th U.S. state to enact legislation automatically sealing criminal records.