The Clean Slate NY campaign is fighting for a new law (S1553A/A6399) that will automatically clear a New Yorker’s criminal record once they become eligible. The collateral damage of a criminal conviction can be wide-ranging and enduring—permanently barring many individuals from basic opportunities like employment and housing. Clean Slate NY is about strengthening our communities by ensuring that New Yorkers are not punished beyond their sentences and can be full and fair participants in economic and civic life.
A 2017 New York State law allows for criminal records to be permanently sealed under certain conditions. Unfortunately, far too few people know how to apply or have the resources to do so. While an estimated 600,000 New Yorkers are eligible to apply for records sealing under this law, fewer than 2,500—less than 1%—have actually made it through the complex, burdensome process.
With more than 400,000 New Yorkers arrested on criminal charges each year, the exclusion of people with criminal records from employment opportunities via background checks and other barriers hurts productivity and deprives the workforce of crucial talent. The ACLU estimates that, nationally, excluding individuals with conviction histories from the workforce costs the economy between $78 billion and $87 billion in lost domestic product.