Last week, New York’s Clean Slate Act passed both houses of the state Legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign it into law in the near future. What is the Clean Slate Act and how will it impact New Yorkers?

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The Clean Slate Act will provide a second chance for people with criminal records to rebuild their lives and move forward with their careers, allowing individuals with certain criminal convictions to have their records sealed from public view.

What this means is that a person’s criminal records will no longer show up on background checks and that will make it easier for the individual to find employment, housing, and other opportunities. When signed into law, the Clean Slate Act will apply to both misdemeanor and felony convictions. The Act will also cover various offenses, including drug possession, theft, and certain violent crimes.

Under the Clean Slate Act, a person can request their records be sealed after a certain period of time. For misdemeanor convictions, the waiting period is three years, while for felony convictions, the waiting period is seven years. Once the waiting period has passed, a person will be able to apply for their record to be sealed and if approved, their criminal records will be sealed from public view.

Additionally, the Clean Slate Act will automatically seal certain records, such as cases that were dismissed or resulted in a non-criminal conviction. What this means is that people with these types of cases on their records will have their records automatically sealed and they will not have to apply for their records to be sealed.

The Clean Slate Act aims to reduce the stigma associated with having a criminal record which will allow people better access to employment, housing, and other opportunities that they may have been previously passed over due to their criminal records.

In an email sent to Townsquare Media, Ken Oliver, Executive Director of Checkr Foundation and Vice President of Checkr.org expressed joy at the steps New York has taken with the Clean Slate Act, calling it a win for New Yorkers and also noted how much hope it gives to others nationwide, "too many of whom have been locked out of the middle-class economy as a result of discriminatory housing and employment policies.

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