Monday, October 2, 2023 -
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Not on the criminal record

New York state is contemplating a bill that would erase a person’s criminal record after a few years of crime-free life. There are exceptions: sex offenses and murder, for example. But the basic idea is this: After a person has paid one’s debt to society and turned one’s life around, why should it be virtually impossible to get a job, rent an apartment or do anything else that requires a record of one’s incarceration history?

The bill is being pushed as an economic development measure. A lot of good people are being kept out of the work force, the argument goes. The US Chamber of Commerce says that the exclusion of former convicts has cost the US $78 billion in lost gross domestic product. 

No doubt, a person should not be plagued for life for a crime committed in youth. Just this: the number of crime-free years to qualify for the erasure of one’s criminal record is way too low. Some say three years, some say seven. In any event, here is the real rub: The proof of a crime-free life is limited to New York state. If one served one’s full sentence, including parole, after which one did not commit any crime in New York state for a prescribed period, the criminal history is erased. This is the proverbial loophole through which a Mack truck can pass.

As such, this bill joins “defund the police,” bail reform and other oversimplified, crime-promotion policies that amount to a dangerous sacrifice of public safety.

Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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