Clean Slate Act will seal certain criminal records

Clean Slate Act will seal certain criminal records

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New legislation signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday will seal certain criminal records for people released from prison who do not recommit crimes.

The Clean Slate Act, which goes into effect in a year, will seal eligible misdemeanor convictions after three years and certain felony convictions after a period of eight years.

Tom Gant, the re-entry coordinator for the University of Rochester’s Education Initiative, said he knows the value of getting a second chance.

“I’m very blessed and fortunate to have had a soft landing. I had the support of my wife. My family. My loved ones, and organizations like CCA and the University of Rochester,” Gant said.

After serving 16 years at Attica Correctional Facility for second-degree murder, Gant began his journey to a new life and career — reasons why Gant is committed to helping others like him and fully supports the Clean Slate Act.

“Most people who find themselves in prison, it wasn’t for being a Boy Scout, or a Girl Scout, but what I get to do at the university is help them become a more complete citizen,” Gant said.

Others, like New York State Senator George Borrello, said that the law is a move in the wrong direction.

“Someone should have to request to have their records sealed. That way at least we know they have the intention of going out and improving their lives, however that might be. But in this case, it’s going to happen automatically,” said Borrello, who represents the 57th District, which includes part of Livingston County along with parts of the Southern Tier.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-120th, also disagrees with the law and said that the Clean Slate Act could pose a danger to small business owners and families.

“If you want to hire somebody to watch your parents or take care of your parents, wouldn’t you want to know if they’ve been convicted of robbery or burglary? I think that’s pretty relevant to the job they are taking,” Barclay said.

Even with the Clean Slate Act in effect, it will not prohibit law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, the State Education Department, and other government entities from accessing criminal records.