George Borrello Blasts The Clean Slate Bill

Shortly after Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Clean Slate Act, her office sent an email with statements from more than 50 of the bill’s supporters.

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, isn’t among those on that list.

“Governor Hochul’s signing today of the Clean Slate Act is more confirmation that catering to criminals and the radical wing of her party is more important than the safety and concerns of New Yorkers who have repeatedly cited rising crime as the state’s number one problem,” said Borrello, who voted against the legislation on the Senate floor. “This misguided law will allow criminals – even serial offenders — to have their records automatically sealed after a specified time period. Serious crimes like manslaughter, armed robbery, domestic violence, and arson are among the crimes that will be hidden from employers and landlords, placing countless unsuspecting individuals in harm’s way.” S.7551A/A.1029C allows certain criminal records to be sealed years after an individual is sentenced or released from incarceration if that individual is not subsequently convicted of an additional criminal act. Following their release from any incarceration, records of individuals with eligible misdemeanor convictions will be sealed after three years and those with certain felony convictions will be sealed after eight years.

The law requires the Office of Court Administration to determine which criminal history records are eligible for sealing and notify the following entities of those sealed convictions: the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, which maintains the state’s fingerprint-based criminal history records; courts of conviction, county clerks, police departments, sheriffs’ offices, and district attorneys’ offices.

Hochul said the Clean Slate Act will not seal the records of individuals convicted of sex crimes, murder or other non-drug Class A felonies. She said law enforcement, prosecutors, the state Education Department, the courts and other groups will continue to have access to all criminal records, including those sealed to the general public. The Clean Slate Act takes effect in one year.

New York will become the 12th state in the nation to sign Clean Slate legislation, joining states like Utah, South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“The best crime-fighting tool is a good-paying job. That’s why I support giving New Yorkers a clean slate after they’ve paid their debt to society and gone years without an additional offense,” Hochul said this week. “I negotiated a compromise that protects public safety and boosts economic opportunity, and the final Clean Slate Law will help New Yorkers access jobs and housing while allowing police, prosecutors and school officials to protect their communities. And as our state faces a worker shortage, with more than 450,000 job openings right now, this new law will help businesses find more workers who will help them grow, expand and thrive.”

Hochul cited studies showing New York is missing out on $12.6 billion of lost wages each year due to the reduced earnings of individuals with unsealed criminal records as one reason to support the legislation. But Borrello said there is already a process to seal criminal records that has reasonable safeguards to make sure individuals having their records sealed don’t pose a threat to public safety. That line of reasoning was supported by Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, who also voted against the measure in the Assembly.

“Throughout this debate today there seems to be this underlying current or belief that if you have committed a crime there’s no second chance in New York,” Goodell said. “That your criminal record will follow you forever, for the rest of your life. That it’s perpetual punishment. That there’s no break for you. That is just not true.”


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