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Asian Wave Alliance Opposes the Irresponsible and Dangerous Clean Slate Act

Reference: Bill S.1553-B-Myrie/A.6399-A-Cruz

April 26, 2022 (New York, NY) The Clean Slate Act sponsored by Senator Myrie and Assembly Member Cruz, co-sponsored by Senators Andrew Gounardes, Brian Kavanagh, and John Liu, is wrong for New Yorkers. If this becomes law, the records of over 600,000 convicted criminals and 2.3M convictions will automatically be sealed after just three years from sentencing and expunged after seven years, including serious felonies. To be clear, these crimes would be treated as if they had never happened.

We are gravely concerned for thousands of Asian small property owners, many of whom reside under the same roof, with their tenants. Not only do they take on financial risk in renting to strangers, they may have to fear for the safety of their families. The current bill does not limit the number of convictions that can be expunged or the violent nature of the crimes. We believe it is irresponsible that all biometric data such as fingerprints, photographs and even DNA would be erased; this will impede law enforcement’s ability to solve future crimes.

The legislators acknowledge that even when defendants have served their time, their criminal record is relevant to law enforcement job applications and licenses to purchase guns. They also recognize that certain crimes like murder and sex crimes should be excluded from this bill. Why then should neighbors, landlords and store owners take on risks sealed to them?

We agree that people make mistakes and one-time low-level offenses such as shoplifting or traffic violations should not haunt someone for life. However, we also know that many serious crimes often get plea bargained to lower offenses. The lack of specificity in the bill must be addressed; currently all misdemeanors and felonies with the exception of murder, manslaughter and sex crimes would be expunged. While we are sympathetic to the intent of the bill, we oppose the broad allowance given to repeat offenders of violent crimes, and handcuffing law enforcement in solving crimes. Criminal justice reforms should not be at the expense of residents, landlords, employers and crime victims.

We urge NY legislators to oppose the Clean Slate Bill.

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