Expungement for New York

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

  • About

    New York State needs an expungement law. 

    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.

    Despite recent progress in criminal justice reform, New York lags behind many other states by not allowing "expungement" of any type of conviction. Expungement is the removal of criminal conviction information from official government records after a specified amount of time has passed since the conviction. 

    Our statewide coalition is working to end the era of perpetual punishment by passing a comprehensive expungement law that will benefit all New Yorkers.

    Learn more about the campaign. Check out Getting to Go: The Case for Criminal Record Expungement in New York State.

     

     

     

  • Stories

     

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

    Brian Palmer came home from prison in 2010 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 A supervisor at the law firm learned that Brian’s convictions were related to larceny, the job offer was instantly rescinded.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.”

     

     

     

  • Take Action

New York State needs an expungement law. 

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.

Despite recent progress in criminal justice reform, New York lags behind many other states by not allowing "expungement" of any type of conviction. Expungement is the removal of criminal conviction information from official government records after a specified amount of time has passed since the conviction. 

Our statewide coalition is working to end the era of perpetual punishment by passing a comprehensive expungement law that will benefit all New Yorkers.

Learn more about the campaign. Check out Getting to Go: The Case for Criminal Record Expungement in New York State.

 

 

 

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