New Law Will Allow Courts to Seal Criminal Records for Drug Offenders
June 8, 2009
I have seen a lot of bad ideas in my life; New Coke, Windows ME, The Ab Roller and Sleeping Pills for Kids! While I am confident that legislatures thought this was a good idea the impact is far reaching. Sealing criminal records, especially those of convicted felons could very well top the list of worst ideas ever! Not allowing an organization to conduct thorough background checks puts people at risk, period. Well congratulations State Senator Eric Schneiderman, D-Manhattan/Bronx, you get the newly created employeescreenIQ “New Coke” Award!
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.
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