Thousands of New Yorkers Eligible for Criminal Pardons
By Matt Jarchow
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For young New Yorkers, one mistake can close the door on a future.
“In New York State, there is no such thing as expungement, and so once you have something on your criminal history record, it stays there for the rest of your life,” Center for Community Alternatives Director of Justice Strategies Emily NaPier said. “It really has the potential to disrupt their entire lives.”
It could restrict opportunities for work, school, or housing — some of the essentials for a productive life. But thousands of New Yorkers could soon get those opportunities back with an executive pardon from Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“I think that it’s going to be a benefit to many people who have their opportunities for advancement blocked by the fact that they got into this trouble when they were young,” Tully Rinckey PLLC Managing Partner Donald Kelly said.
Residents looking to be pardoned must have committed a non-violent felony or misdemeanor, have been 16 or 17 years old at conviction, been conviction-free since then, be up to date on taxes and be a productive member of his or her community. It’s criteria that can be difficult to meet.
“Exactly the people who need this kind of relief might be the ones who don’t get it, because their involvement in the criminal justice system really reduced their chances of being successful,” NaPier said.
Others said the pardons can give convicted residents hope and a drive to remain crime free.
Another incentive is the pardons are conditional. If a resident is re-convicted, the pardon will be withdrawn.
The state will begin an outreach program to find candidates eligible for a pardon, but residents can also apply online.