The NPR has an excellent post on how giving convicts a second chance can lead to reduced crime and the more productive use of these individuals in society. The present system, in New York, does not allow the expungement of records and provides, only, sealing of records for only a small handful of convicts.
The reality is with a criminal record, you shall have issues with housing, obtaining a job and even obtaining business loans. Some people make mistakes in their youth that destroys their future. A non-violent drug offense should not lead to the destruction of the lives of our youth. New York State and the U.S. government should implement a program after study and the revision of law.
This proposal is not coming for a radical that does not believe in jails and wishes to defund the police. The reality is that we need pragmatic solutions to today's problems and a rethinking of our criminal justice system is necessary. We can not continue on this path. We are failing too many of our at-risk youth and being required to support these individuals via public assistance or within jails. We need to develop a program that can lead to the development of individuals into productive members of society.
A good start is implementation of a trial Second Chance Criminal Record Expungement Program for all that are convicted of non-violent crimes.
The Democrats and Republicans have abandoned these citizens for fear of upsetting the electorate. The reality is that present methods are not leading to a reduction in crime.
Second Chance Criminal Record Expungement Program
We believe a test program should be established that implements the following basics:
Shortly before the completion of Parole or Probation, the offender is offered to be entered into the Second Chance Criminal Record Expungement Program. The entry into the Second Chance Criminal Record Expungement Program shall require more than the basics required by a Parole or Probation Officer and shall include the need to show a roadmap to becoming a productive member of society.
If the offender accepts the offer the offender's Parole or Probation is extended for one additional year. The one additional year shall be managed by a Mentor and not a probation or parole officer. Many NGOs operate, at this time, these Mentorship programs from at-risk youth.
Any violations of law during the Program leads to removal from the Program.
Upon completion of the Program, the record of the offender is sealed for two years. During these two years the offender has the ability to apply for jobs without the black mark of the criminal record.
Prior to unsealing of the record, the offender must establish to the Parole Office that the offender is proceeding on the roadmap established during the Program. If no crimes were committed, the convict is proceeding on the roadmap, is drug free and has stable employment - the record of the convict is expunged.
This is a preliminary viewpoint and we believe that discussion and study is needed to vet out issues that may arise. Overall, we need a program that gives a convict the tools needed to be a productive member of society and that recognizes that some people, at least, deserve a second chance.
Sean Hayes (Candidate for New York City Council in District 1)
Pragmatic Solutions through Experienced Leadership
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