New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Thursday renewed his call for the passage of a measure that would seal and expunge many criminal records in the state after the proposal stalled in the Legislature this June.
Williams, a Democrat, is considered a potential candidate for governor in 2022, occupying a lane for progressives in what could be a competitive primary in the coming months.
Williams introduced a resolution in the New York City calling for the passage in Albany of what's known as the Clean Slate Act, a bill that would seal conviction records of a person after they have completed their sentence and is no longer on parole or probation.
Criminal justice reform advocates have argued the bill would enable more people who have served their sentence to access jobs or housing. But some lawmakers, including Democrats in the majorities of the state Senate and Assembly, raised concerns with the scope of the provisions contained in the bill, and the legislation ultimately did not receive final passage by the time the session ended in June.
"A past criminal offense, no matter how far back in one's personal history or how much they've changed since then, serves as an permanent impediment in many spaces and denies people the opportunity to move on, to improve their lives and communities," Williams said. "While we work to reduce contact with the criminal justice system, and provide alternatives to incarceration, it is absolutely vital that once someone's sentence is served, they have full and fair opportunity to participate in society without burdens and barriers to prevent that."