Bill would seal, expunge criminal records for some incarcerated New Yorkers

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NEW YORK — The fight for the automatic expungement of conviction records in New York state is moving forward with the introduction of new legislation in Albany.

“This is that step in the right direction, to be able to resurrect yourself, said State Senator Jamaal Bailey.

Under Senate bill S1553A, “the first process is to seal the record of the conviction,” Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz explained. The record “will be sealed for most civil purposes like employment and housing.”

If a person stays out of trouble with the law, their sealed record would then be expunged. The expungement would happen automatically after 5 years for misdemeanor crimes and after 7 years for felony convictions.

Anyone subject to lifetime parole or who must be listed on the sex offender registry would not quality for expungement.

Cruz said she expects significant push-back to the proposed legislation, particularly from victim advocates.

But formerly incarcerated New Yorkers like Kevin Smith praised the legislative effort.

“It’s moving, and I think it will help people recover.”

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