A coalition of labor unions, survivor and victim organizations, civil rights groups and legal services on Monday in an open letter called on top state lawmakers to reconvene in Albany and approve a bill that would seal and expunge criminal records in New York.
The measure, known as the "clean slate" bill, faltered at the end of the legislative session in June, though lawmakers have not ruled passing a version of the proposal at some point in the future.
The letter released Monday was signed by more than 100 organizations, including the New York State Nurses Association, District Council 37, the National Action Network and the Innocence Project, among others.
Supporters of the bill have argued the sealing and eventual expungement of many criminal records would help people with prior convictions gain employment, housing or further their education. If approved, the measure would be a significant criminal justice law change, and some moderate Democrats had expressed reservations with the initial proposal in the final days of the session.
"Through our work, we see firsthand the devastating effect conviction records have on the lives of our clients, congregants, members, employees, friends and neighbors," the groups wrote in the letter. "But the harm of a conviction does not stop there. Entire families and communities suffer this perpetual punishment, leading to an incalculable loss for our state. Community safety is compromised when people cannot meet their most basic needs – housing, employment, and education – and intergenerational poverty is entrenched."
State lawmakers have not given an indication when or if they would return to Albany to take up unfinished business before the scheduled return in January 2022.