New York State legislation discusses various bills, one of which would seal criminal records and reform parole

The state Senate and Assembly passed the Less is More Act when lawmakers wrapped up the end of the legislative session.

Legislative leaders will decide when to send the bill to Governor Cuomo who has ten days to decide whether to sign or veto it.

The bill would allow New Yorker’s to have their criminal records automatically sealed and would keep them from getting jail time for non-violent parole violations.

The bill is sponsored by Senior Assistant Majority Leader Brian Benjamin who has exceptions, like if someone is imprisoned for a DWI and then went out driving.




The bill would also allow for “earned time credits” to incentivize positive behavior and would allow access to counsel during the parole revocation process.

Jared Trujillo, a New York Civil Liberties Union policy counsel, stated the the legislation recognizes parolees should be home with their families and in their communities, not put back behind bars for a technical violation like missing an appointment.

The records in New York State would automatically seal the records for many criminal convictions at least three years from sentencing for a misdemeanor and seven years for a felony under an amended bill lawmakers expected to pass Thursday.

The law would not apply to sex offenses, people under parole or probation, or people facing a criminal charge.

An original provision of the Clean Slate Act was removed that would have expunged the records from a person’s criminal history.

While these bills are led by Democratic lawmakers, Republicans have voiced their concerns for the greater focus on perpetrators instead of victims.




Simultaneously, criminal justice advocacy groups are criticizing the Democratic-led legislature for failing to pass more bills that would help those who are denied parole.

Thursday, the Assembly did not plan to pass a bill that would direct state parole to evaluate whether inmates over the age of 55 would pose a significant public safety risk if released. Another bill that did not appear likely to pass would require the board to parole inmates as soon as their minimum sentence was done unless there was a clear public safety risk.

A few other bills looked at included lowering the age of juvenile delinquency, decriminalizing syringes, bills on anti-harassment, and Grand Jury secrecy.

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