Major labor unions in New York are backing a bill that would seal and eventually expunge the criminal records of up to 2.3 million in the state.
The "clean slate" proposal in the state is among the criminal justice measures being considered by the state Legislature in the final days of the legislative session, set to conclude on June 10.
Unions 1199SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association and District Council 37 this week released memorandums in support of the bill hoping to sway lawmakers for final passage. Supporters of the measure point to its potential for helping people who served their sentences gain employment.
"Everyone who has committed a crime and served their sentence deserves move forward with their lives," the 1199 memo in support stated. "As we begin to rebuild our economy after the pandemic, we need all New Yorkers to participate in the economy and no one should be excluded for a past mistake."
The measure is especially expected to affect people of color in New York amid an overall push to reform the state's criminal justice system. State lawmakers previously approved a measure to clear criminal records, but supporters contend the law has not had a wide-ranging enough effect.
"Conviction histories erect lasting barriers to economic security and full engagement in the community, affecting not only individuals but also their families, neighborhoods, and New York State as a whole," DC37 wrote in its memo. "New York has a long history of enacting important reform to support full participation in the life and economy of this state."