New law will allow courts to seal criminal records for drug offenders

By chillinwill · Jun 8, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Starting Monday, a convicted felon could be hired to teach your child in school or care for your ailing grandmother in a nursing home, and neither you, nor the employer, would have a way of knowing about the person's criminal past.

    New legislation, enacted as part of Rockefeller drug reforms included in this year's state budget, allows courts to seal the criminal records of non-violent felony drug offenders if they complete drug court and rehabilitation programs. Convictions for one felony and up to three misdemeanors could be sealed.

    That means that most employers would never know if a person was previously convicted of manufacturing meth, selling marijuana or using a child to commit a controlled substance offense -- even if the employer runs a background check. The same would be true for several burglary and criminal mischief charges.

    Those criminal convictions would pop up only if a person applies to become a police officer or requests a gun permit. Background checks for doctors, day-care workers and bank tellers would reveal nothing.

    "It's insane to not protect the vulnerable over people who have had four shots," said Sen. John DeFrancisco.

    James Freedland, spokesman for Sen. Eric Schneiderman, D-Manhattan/Bronx, who sponsored the bill, said the senator proposed the changes to give non-violent offenders a second chance and get them back into the workforce.

    "There is absolutely no automatic sealing of criminal records," Freedland said. "This is about discretion. Prior to now, prosecutors were the ones who had the authority to make that say (to seal records). Now judges are the ones who have the final say."

    "The people who are eligible...are not people that are in prison," he continued. "These are people that were diverted into drug treatment programs and successfully completed those programs."

    The law is scheduled to take effect Monday.

    Two weeks ago, Schneiderman introduced legislation to push back the bills start date to give criminal justice agencies a chance to update their systems to handle the new provisions. Senate Republicans also introduced a bill last month to repeal the record-sealing law.

    But, as of Friday, neither bill had been considered.

    by Delen Goldberg
    The Post-Standard
    Sunday June 07, 2009, 8:00 AM

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  1. Greenport
    This had better been an editorial piece, because god-damn it has way too much of the author's opinion!

    That's a good thing to shift that power into a judge's hands because that means a guy who was manufacturing meth or selling marijuana to your children (OmGz whatever do we do!??!?! Not the children!) will STILL have it on their record - but those who are arrested on petty drug charges which haven't hurt anybody in the process, won't. This means that the guys who are really causing the problems in this drug war will still be known for it while those like your teenagers who get picked up with a dimebag on the street aren't going to have their entire lives ruined over it...

    The news reporter needs to get their facts straight and stop talking out their own ass. This is GOOD news and is sensible.
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^^ if only that were true. The reality will probably be more that- the wealthy and connected, the (upper) middle class folks, and the snitches will walk away clean.
    The rest will be put through the system and branded. Justice is for those that can afford it.

    Maybe swims turtles a cynic, maybe he's just seen too much. But the more things change...the more they stay the same.
  3. Waffa
    This is REALLY REALLY REALLY good news. What is wrong whit reporter who wrote it, why he made it sound so bad??
    He did not report the news but was telling his oppinion about it, this kind of things should be on this person blog not under news (whatever news site it is). Shame on Delen Goldberg for not understanding this.
  4. legal Forum
    Because non-violent criminals who have been tried by a court of law, judged by a jury of their peers and who have served their time to society should be denied another chance and forced into a life of crime where they will likely become drug dealers, furthering the failure of the war on drugs by providing the criminal side with fresh recruits by lack of another option.
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