Thursday, June 11, 2009
Convicted felons in New York now have the right to conceal their criminal records from potential employees, including school districts, day-care centers and nursing homes. Eligible convictions include drug sale and possession charges, as well as burglary and grand larceny charges.
Young offenders in the state of New York already have protection by being able to apply for the youthful offender status to have their records sealed. Many employers are upset that the new law hides even more criminal information from them.
Superintendent Michael Shea said he had not heard of the provision,"it seems there was very little, if any, public discussion about this."
Sen. James L. Seward, R-Oneonta, and Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, are co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the provision, which Bonacic dubs the "Drug Dealers Protection Act" in a media release.
"This change defies all common sense because it would effectively wipe the slate clean for drug dealers who undergo criminal background checks when seeking employment in certain positions," Seward said last week. "This means convicted drug dealers could be taking care of children at a day-care center or as a nanny, teaching at a school, or working at a nursing home or some other position of trust."
Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, has defended the provision, as has Democratic Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver. Democrats have also controlled the Senate this year, but a vote Monday switched the Senate to GOP control through a coalition with two New York City Democrats.
Lopez, Seward and Bonacic said the measure is a result of a state budget process held behind closed doors.
"The changes to New York's drug laws were rushed through as part of the state's secret budget process," Bonacic said in the release. "The New York City Democrats who controlled the budget process claimed to be thrilled with these changes, and now we see the results. Secret negotiations combined with a soft-on-crime attitude have left New York with a dangerous public policy we must stop."