Expungement for New York

We've done our time. The era of perpetual punishment must end.

  • About

    The era of perpetual punishment must end: New York needs an expungement law NOW.

    The past several years have seen some promising steps toward criminal justice reform in New York, from major drops in the incarceration rate to the passage of Raise the Age legislation that will divert most 16 and 17 year olds from prosecution in criminal court.

    Even with this progress, however, New York lags behind many other states because we have no expungement law. Expungement is the removal of criminal conviction information from official government records after a specified amount of time has passed since the conviction. Because our state does not allow expungement of any type of conviction, New Yorkers with criminal records often face lifelong barriers to employment, education, housing, and civic involvement, no matter how much they have done to create positive change in their lives. These barriers don’t just harm people with convictions and their families; they also reduce the state’s workforce, keeping the entire New York economy from reaching its full potential.
     

    Our statewide coalition is working to end the era of perpetual punishment by passing an expungement law that will benefit all New Yorkers. The legislation we are fighting for would:

    • Make expungement relief available to as many people as possible, including those with multiple convictions and those with “violent” convictions;
    • Make the passage of a specified amount of time since a person’s most recent conviction the only eligibility requirement;
    • Make applying for expungement an administrative process, where expungement is automatically granted as long as the eligibility requirements are met; and
    • Allow people to apply using a simple, standardized, and widely distributed form, with no supplemental records or sworn statements required.

    Help us make New York a safer, fairer, and more prosperous place to live and work. Sign on to our platform, and sign up here for regular updates and ways to get involved with the campaign.

     

     

  • Stories

     

    “It’s like I’m still in a prison because of my criminal background.”

    Brian Palmer came home from prison in 2012 and set off to get his life back together and find work. He’d done everything right, including completing his sentence in a rigorous alternative to incarceration program available to those with non-violent histories, connecting with reentry organizations for help once released, completing a rehab program, and working with CSS’s Next Door Project to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct and to be sure his criminal record was accurate.

    Brian had studied to be a paralegal and he was excited when he landed an interview at a law firm. “They asked if I had a record, I admitted I did, and they took the application.”

    When Brian called back, he was told he’d been hired and he was elated. But that feeling didn’t last long.

    “I had that job all of five minutes,” Brian says. A supervisor at the law firm learned that Brian’s convictions were related to larceny, the job offer was instantly rescinded. Says Brian, “That’s when I realized, I’ve got a problem here.”

    He persevered, applying to be a driver for a pizza parlor. “I got that interview but failed the background check. I was facing barriers everywhere I went.”

    But Brian kept at it, he was a substance abuse counselor for a time, but while the work was rewarding it was overwhelming and challenged his own sobriety. He worked at a friend’s barber shop, but when that business closed he again found himself unemployed. “Going back to the street – that’s not an option for me,” says Brian. “I don’t care how difficult things get.”

    “It’s like I’m still in a prison because of my criminal background.”

    “I’ve been able to change my life—really seriously make changes. So why should I be constantly reminded of my record every time I apply for a job, or look for an apartment?” says Brian. He strongly supports the campaign to bring an expungement law to New York State. “Without expungement, I’m always under the shadow of the mistakes I have made.”

    Speaking of his experience as a counselor, he says: “I would tell guys, ‘you’re an ex offender. And the important part of that is EX—it’s in the past, over.”

    For Brian, expungement would make that a reality for him and thousands of others. With such a law in place, he says, “You have a chance to wipe your slate clean. Now, the rest of your life is on you.”

     

     

     

  • Sign On

The era of perpetual punishment must end: New York needs an expungement law NOW.

The past several years have seen some promising steps toward criminal justice reform in New York, from major drops in the incarceration rate to the passage of Raise the Age legislation that will divert most 16 and 17 year olds from prosecution in criminal court.

Even with this progress, however, New York lags behind many other states because we have no expungement law. Expungement is the removal of criminal conviction information from official government records after a specified amount of time has passed since the conviction. Because our state does not allow expungement of any type of conviction, New Yorkers with criminal records often face lifelong barriers to employment, education, housing, and civic involvement, no matter how much they have done to create positive change in their lives. These barriers don’t just harm people with convictions and their families; they also reduce the state’s workforce, keeping the entire New York economy from reaching its full potential.
 

Our statewide coalition is working to end the era of perpetual punishment by passing an expungement law that will benefit all New Yorkers. The legislation we are fighting for would:

  • Make expungement relief available to as many people as possible, including those with multiple convictions and those with “violent” convictions;
  • Make the passage of a specified amount of time since a person’s most recent conviction the only eligibility requirement;
  • Make applying for expungement an administrative process, where expungement is automatically granted as long as the eligibility requirements are met; and
  • Allow people to apply using a simple, standardized, and widely distributed form, with no supplemental records or sworn statements required.

Help us make New York a safer, fairer, and more prosperous place to live and work. Sign on to our platform, and sign up here for regular updates and ways to get involved with the campaign.

 

 

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