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Suffolk County Republicans blast Clean Slate law

Nonie from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0
Wikimedia Commons

This week, New York became the 12th state to allow certain criminal records to be sealed. But Republican lawmakers in Suffolk County called the new Clean Slate law a blow to public safety and evidence of a pro-criminal agenda in Albany.

The law will make people who served their sentences for certain crimes eligible to have their records sealed automatically — after three years for certain misdemeanor convictions and eight years for certain felonies.

At a news conference Friday, Suffolk County Republicans rallied against the law, calling it a mistake and a slap in the face to victims of crime.

“'Get over it; It never happened' — That’s what we’re saying to the crime victims," state Senator Dean Murray (R- Patchogue) said. "That’s what we’re saying to their loved ones and their families.”

County Executive-elect Ed Romaine said there are certain cases where sealing a criminal record is appropriate, but that the law will ultimately weaken the criminal justice system.

“Should [sealing records] be automatic? Should it be carte blanche? Or should it be subject to judicial discretion and allow the judges to determine who should have a criminal record expunged? I think it should be up to the judges,” Romaine said.

Criminal justice advocates said a clean slate will make it easier for people who were once incarcerated to get housing, employment and education opportunities.

When Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law this week, she called the law's provisions — and its limitations — common sense.

"We're not sealing records for sex crimes or most class A felonies," Hochul said. "Employers and the public have a right to know about sex offenders and the worst violent criminals before they give them a job."

The law will go into effect in November, 2024. Connecticut's clean slate law took effect earlier this year.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.