IMPACTED PEOPLE, LABOR UNIONS, BUSINESSES, AND CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CELEBRATE THE GOVERNOR’S SIGNING OF THE CLEAN SLATE ACT
Katie Schaffer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-265-2044
Tanya Frable, email@example.com, 347-677-2463
NEW YORK – Today, Governor Hochul signed the Clean Slate Act, legislation that will help millions of people support their families, boost New York’s economy and help create safer and stronger communities. Her signature on this historic legislation was lauded by hundreds of labor unions, businesses, and civil rights groups.
Clean Slate will expand the workforce, address New York’s labor shortage, and boost New York’s economy. According to a recent analysis, Clean Slate would generate an estimated annual earnings boost to New York State of $12.6 billion. Nationally, excluding individuals with conviction records from the workforce costs the economy as much as $87 billion annually in lost GDP—a devastating loss with a real human toll on households, individuals, workers, businesses, and families.
Because of racism in New York’s criminal legal system, these civil consequences resulting from old conviction records disproportionately impact Black and brown New Yorkers and deepen already-existing racial inequalities in civic life. As recent data show, 80% of individuals in New York City with conviction records are Black or Latinx, which mirrors statewide trends.
By addressing systemic barriers to jobs and housing posed by old conviction records, the Clean Slate Act will also improve public safety. A Harvard Law Review study found that within two years of clearing their records under Michigan law, people were 11% more likely to have a job, were earning 25% more, and were less likely than members of the general public to be convicted of a crime.
As Albany’s former chief of police and a former federal prosecutor said in a recent op-ed, “The best way to keep communities safe is to prevent crime in the first place. The Clean Slate Act would remove some of the roadblocks between people who have served their time and real opportunities to get back on their feet and fully participate in society. When they can’t find jobs or housing, people with past criminal convictions often end up back in jail. The Clean Slate Act would remove a huge obstacle for people who have served their time and are trying to become productive New Yorkers.” By allowing people to access life essentials, Clean Slate will help to create stronger, safer communities.
The Clean Slate Act has unprecedented support, including from New York’s largest employers, labor unions, and over a dozen cities and counties who have passed resolutions calling for passage of the bill. Recently, Clean Slate received editorial board endorsements from the Buffalo News and the Times Union, influential business support from Kathy Wylde and the Partnership for NYC, dozens of child advocacy organizations, and the NYC Comptroller who released new data on the economic benefits of Clean Slate.
The Clean Slate Act has been endorsed by three Fortune 500 companies—Microsoft, Verizon, and JP Morgan Chase—who employ tens of thousands of New Yorkers; the Business Council of New York State, which represents 3,500 member companies; local chambers of commerce, and professional and trade associations; and, recently, National Grid, ConEdison and the Partnership for New York City.
The bill also has the support of unions representing over two million workers, including 32BJ SIEU, Hotel & Gaming Trades (HTC), District Council 37, 1199 SEIU, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, Mason Tenders’ District Council, Laborers’ Local 79, and the New York State Nurses Association.
Clean Slate has unprecedented support from across the state. Resolutions in support of the Clean Slate Act (S.7551A/A.1029C) have passed in fifteen cities and counties across the state, including New York City, Buffalo, Westchester, Albany City & County, Syracuse, Ulster County, Columbia County, Newburgh, Hudson, Ellenville, Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Catskill, and Schenectady.
Labor unions, businesses, and civil rights groups celebrated the Governor’s signature on this long-awaited legislation.
“The Clean Slate Act is historic reform that will bring relief to millions of New Yorkers who have been excluded from economic opportunity, stable housing, and higher education for far too long,” said Garrett Smith, Lead Organizer for the Clean Slate NY coalition at Center for Community Alternatives (CCA). “While more work remains to be done to end perpetual punishment for all people, we know that the Clean Slate Act will help New Yorkers support their families, create stronger and safer communities, and boost our economy.”
“The signing of the Clean Slate Act is transformative for me and millions of New Yorkers who share my struggle,” said Melinda Agnew, member of Center for Community Alternatives (CCA). “In October of 1999, I was sentenced to three years’ probation. I completed my sentence, and since then, I have become a mom and a grandma, returned to school, obtained both my bachelor’s degree and my master’s. Yet 25 years later, despite all that I have done to give back to my community, I am still turned away from jobs, denied promotions and rejected from housing programs because of my two-decade old conviction. While our fight to end perpetual punishment for all people is on-going, we celebrate Governor Hochul signing this critical legislation into law.”
“We applaud Governor Hochul for signing the Clean Slate Act into law. No one should suffer a lifetime of closed doors for past mistakes, especially those who have served their time. With this legislation, more New Yorkers can now live without discrimination for their history and move toward a future with new opportunities to contribute to society,” said Henry Garrido, District Council 37 Executive Director.
“HTC applauds Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this historic civil rights bill,” said Rich Maroko, President of the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council. “We are proud to stand with Governor Hochul and with the Clean Slate coalition whose efforts were critical in passing this important legislation, which will foster increased stability within New York communities and contribute to a more robust economy in our state.”
“All New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to join the workforce and provide for their families. I commend Governor Hochul on signing the Clean Slate Act and ensuring that New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society are able to contribute to their communities and participate in our economy. This important law will benefit not just millions of individual New Yorkers, but strengthen our state as a whole,” said Dennis G. Trainor, Vice President, CWA District 1.
“The signing of this bill into law by Governor Hochul will help tackle long-standing racial inequities in our criminal justice system while also expanding the state’s workforce at a time of significant shortages. This new law will help eliminate barriers to jobs, housing and education for thousands of New Yorkers who deserve the opportunity to move forward with their lives,” said Helen Schaub, Political Director of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “We applaud all of the grassroots activists for their tireless work in making this proposal a reality.”
The historic signature of the Clean Slate Act into law means that millions of justice-involved New Yorkers will receive a second chance. As longtime advocates for workers, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW understands the types of hurdles impacted members of our communities face while trying to re-enter the workforce and regain their financial independence. For decades, these workers have been at an unfair disadvantage and faced ongoing punishment despite repaying their debts to society. Today, and going forward, this will no longer be the case. We applaud the New York State Legislature and Governor Hochul for wiping the slate clean for justice-involved individuals and giving them the opportunity to thrive in New York’s workforce and achieve economic security for their families,” said Nikki Kateman, Political & Communications Director of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.
“For years our union chanted, “Clean Slate can’t wait!” and now we’re proud to say it won’t wait and will be the law in New York thanks to Governor Hochul’s actions today,” said David Bolger, Business Manager of the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York. “2.3 million New Yorkers will finally be able to have the dignity and justice many take for granted on the job, at home, and in our communities. Thank you Governor Hochul, Assembly Member Cruz, Senator Myrie, and legislative leaders Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for your tireless work to make this policy a reality in New York.”
“Thanks to Governor Hochul’s actions today, 2.3 million New Yorkers will now be able to close a chapter of their lives that’s shaped the future for them and their families,” said Michael Prohaska, Business Manager of Laborers Local 79. “Our union knows firsthand the transformational power Clean Slate will have and how securing a good, safe job can change a person’s life. Local 79 was proud to fight alongside Assembly Member Cruz, Senator Myrie, and our coalition partners to make this life changing policy a reality.”
“The Business Council and our membership, many of whom have long supported the clean slate initiative, are thankful the Governor has finally signed this second chance bill creating meaningful opportunities for many individuals ready to reenter the workforce. The Business Council looks forward to Clean Slate becoming law,” said Paul Zuber, Executive Vice President, The Business Council of New York State.
“The passage of Clean Slate legislation affirms New York’s commitment to economic opportunity for all, including those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. This will expand the talent pool upon which employers can draw. We applaud the thoughtful way the Legislature, the Governor, and advocates have approached the design of a law that can work for all parties,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City.
“Governor Hochul recognizes how the Clean Slate Act will open so many more opportunities for both business owners and the job-seekers who coveted these jobs, but were shut out for far too long,” said Randy Peers, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Everywhere I go in Brooklyn small businesses are struggling to find employees to fill job openings and this will help to greatly expand the talent pool. The Clean Slate Act is about economic justice, development and helping New York’s workforce develop and grow.”
“We applaud Governor Hochul for signing the Clean Slate Act today. This is a great step to break the cycle of incarceration and re-incarceration and let those who have served their time become productive members of their communities,” said Honorable Milton Tingling (JSC Ret.) Executive Board Member and Co-Chair of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Legal Committee.
“It just got a lot easier to hire great talent in New York,” said LaFawn Davis, Senior Vice President at Indeed. “At Indeed, we believe advancing opportunities for job seekers with criminal records is critical to creating an equitable workforce. We are thrilled that Governor Hochul signed this vital Clean Slate legislation.”
Con Edison applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Clean Slate Act into law as this bill will ensure that businesses and organizations can unlock the human and economic potential of New Yorkers with conviction histories,” said Joeann Walker, Senior Attorney at Con Edison.
“The Business Council of Westchester (BCW), the county’s largest business membership organization focusing on economic development and advocacy, applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Clean Slate legislation into law,” said John Ravitz, Executive Vice President of the Business Council of Westchester. “This law will play a key role in helping New York State employers deal with the ongoing workforce shortage. The BCW supported the legislation because it will help a population of New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society and should have the opportunity to have a chance to obtain a job. The BCW also applauds the sponsors of the bill who listened to the concerns of employees and added strong checks and balances and more liability protections for employers in the bill.”
“This is a huge victory for justice. People who pay their debt to society deserve a second chance and allowing them to reintegrate is a win for public safety. This will also significantly contribute to the relationship between our police and our communities,” said Deputy Chief Wayne Harris (Ret.) who served with the Rochester Police Department for three decades and now serves on the board of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP).
“By removing barriers to housing, jobs, and education, the Clean Slate Act makes our communities safer and our legal system fairer,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “I thank Governor Hochul for signing this critical bill and ensuring that New Yorkers with criminal convictions can rebuild their lives, as well as the many impacted individuals and advocates whose work helped make this momentous day a reality.”
“The Community Service Society of New York (CSS) applauds Governor Hochul for signing legislation that will relieve millions of New Yorkers from the perpetual punishment of stale criminal records, which has always fallen more harshly on communities of color,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of CSS. “Clean Slate is a victory years in the making, and we use this moment of celebration to recommit ourselves to the work to come. We look forward to working on implementation so that the dream of a second chance finally becomes reality.”
“This is a moment for the millions of New Yorkers who have been forced to suffer under the cloud of a criminal conviction that has long impeded their ability to secure employment, housing, educational opportunities, benefits and other critical needs,” said Tina Luongo, Chief Attorney of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “With the stroke of a pen, Governor Kathy Hochul has ended this nightmare and transformed the lives of so many of our clients and their families for the better. The Legal Aid Society lauds bill sponsors Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz for championing Clean Slate, and we urge lawmakers to build on this success next session by passing other needed measures to overhaul our unjust and punitive criminal legal system.”
“Clean Slate is a long-overdue step toward ending the perpetual punishment of our legal system for millions of New Yorkers,” said Johari Frasier, Equal Justice Works Fellow, Policy and Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders. “The people we serve have paid their debt to society and will now finally have the opportunity to find employment, participate in their communities and provide for their families. We look forward to working with the governor and legislature to find more ways of dismantling the myriad of barriers erected to prevent full citizenship of those convicted of offenses.”
“We celebrate the Governor’s signing of the Clean Slate Act, as sealing criminal records provides an important tool to remove some of the many barriers that obstruct the path of formerly incarcerated individuals seeking legitimate reintegration,” said Robert Willis, Justice Advocate Coordinator, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Every individual, regardless of their past, deserves the chance to rebuild their lives and strengthen our communities. The work ahead is not just necessary; it is an imperative for a fair and inclusive society.”
“Legal Action Center applauds the Senate and the Assembly for passing and Governor Hochul for signing into law this transformative legislation, which will go far not only in boosting our state’s economy but also in building a more equitable and just New York for all. For 50 years, LAC has seen firsthand the multitude of discriminatory barriers that keep New Yorkers with conviction records from vital employment, housing, educational and other opportunities. The Clean Slate Act will transform literally millions of lives by eliminating these barriers completely. While more work remains to ensure its successful implementation, LAC looks forward to partnering with the state on this and continuing to advance efforts that strengthen communities across our great state,” said Paul N. Samuels, Director/President at the Legal Action Center.
“New Yorkers shouldn’t have their past mistakes ruin their future possibilities. Clean Slate will allow more New Yorkers to attain stable jobs, safe housing, and get their lives back on track. We celebrate the passage of this important legislation and urge the Governor to sign it into law immediately,” said Jasmine Gripper, Co-Director, New York Working Families Party.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of coalition members, our champions in the legislature, and now the Governor’s signature, Clean Slate is the law in New York! We celebrate this critical racial justice legislation and the chance it offers to permit millions of our neighbors to fully participate in our communities, go to school, find meaningful work, live in stable housing, and care for their family. We know that this will make a difference for children living in poverty across New York, as we open doors to opportunity for parents and caregivers,” said Julia L. Davis, Director of Youth Justice & Child Welfare at the Children’s Defense Fund-New York.
“The New York City Bar Association applauds Governor Hochul for signing the Clean Slate Act into law. Clean Slate is an innovative legislative solution to ameliorate what individuals with conviction histories experience as a civil life sentence. In doing so, this crucial law will allow millions of New Yorkers the opportunity to move forward, achieve financial and housing security, and become vital participants in New York’s economy. We thank legislative sponsors and the diverse coalition that worked tirelessly to see this day come,” said New York City Bar President Susan Kohlmann.
“The Clean Slate Act is a great victory for racial and economic justice in New York State,” said Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. “It will give millions of New Yorkers who are trying to rebuild their lives a better chance at jobs, college, and housing. Brennan Center research shows that New Yorkers with criminal records collectively lose $12.6 billion in earnings every year, a hardship that this bill will help reduce. We applaud Governor Hochul for signing the Clean Slate Act and look forward to working on implementation with partners in government, advocates, and directly impacted people.”
“We applaud the signing of the Clean Slate Act,” said Serena Martin-Liguori, Executive Director of New Hour For Women and Children. “Signing this bill into law will allow formerly incarcerated mothers, like myself, who far too often are the primary caretakers for their children, to no longer be discriminated against when applying for jobs. Women are perpetually punished and cannot properly provide for their families as a result of incarceration, as they are continuously refused employment. We support Governor Hochul signing this historic bill and creating a second chance for millions of women, men and families.”
“Governor Hochul’s action to sign Clean Slate is a victory for the millions of New Yorkers with criminal convictions, mostly Black and Brown men like me. When I was released from prison, I had to lie on job applications for years, because I knew if I was honest that I would not be hired, even though I was just trying to support myself and be a part of my community. This legislation is an essential step in ending perpetual punishment and allowing people to move past their worst days. It will be hugely beneficial to the individuals we serve at CASES. I commend the Governor for signing this bill,” said Jonathan McLean, President & CEO of CASES.
“In Jewish tradition, there is no such thing as perpetual punishment or permanent exile. As a people, we believe in the power and practice of teshuvah; the ability for each one of us to repent, atone, and return with a ‘clean slate.’ Our criminal legal system today too often denies people who have done the work of atonement and repair the opportunity to fully return to their communities. Clean Slate helps create a pathway to teshuva for New Yorkers who are coming home and a roadmap to a safe and healthy New York for all New Yorkers,” said Rabbi Hilly Haber, Central Synagogue and The NY Jewish Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform.
We stand with the broad coalition of supporters of this landmark law in thanking the Governor for her leadership to end the perpetual punishment of our fellow New Yorkers who have completed their sentences and paid their debt to society,” said Natasha Lifton, Managing Director of External Affairs and Special Projects for Trinity Church Wall Street. “We look forward to continuing to work with the administration as the Clean Slate Act is implemented across the state.”
“Enacting Clean Slate is a huge win for all New Yorkers, but especially for immigrant communities and people of color, who are too often unjustly victimized by our criminal legal system. By automatically sealing criminal records, Clean Slate will remove barriers for countless New Yorkers to fully participate in and contribute to our economies and culture, and allow people to find work, trade licenses and stable housing. We applaud the Legislature and Governor for turning this into law, and look forward to a brighter future where all New York families can truly thrive,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“Signing Clean Slate into law is an important step towards advancing racial justice, supporting successful reentry, and advancing community safety,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Clean Slate will benefit millions of New Yorkers who are currently trapped in cycles of poverty and punishment for a past criminal conviction. It will help address the harm done by decades of racist over-policing that targeted Black and Brown communities and remove a significant barrier to employment, housing, and other necessities that formerly incarcerated New Yorkers need to re-enter society and rebuild their lives with dignity. Albany lawmakers must build on this reform to provide more protections for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.”
“Clean Slate is transformative for young people in New York,” said Kate Rubin, Director of Policy at Youth Represent. “First, because it will automatically seal the records of hundreds of thousands of people who were arrested and convicted when they were teenagers or young adults, and who have faced lifelong barriers as a result. And second, because it is one step toward closing the racial wealth gap that has been made worse by a system that punishes Black and Latiné people not only disproportionately, but perpetually. Youth Represent applauds Governor Hochul for signing this critical legislation and congratulates the bill sponsors and Clean Slate coalition leaders for this incredible victory.”
“We celebrate the Governor’s signing of the Clean Slate Act, which will help remove long-standing barriers to basic life essentials for people who’ve served their time,” said Common Justice. “Millions of New Yorkers endure a life sentence through their conviction record that creates no pathway to healing and keeps families entrenched in poverty. We stand with those punished beyond their sentences, advocates, and many others who’ve called on New York to be a state of second chances and healing, not perpetual punishment.”