August 2, 2018: New York State Bar Association Calls on United States Congress to Pass Comprehensive Criminal Record Sealing Law

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Executive Committee has approved the report and recommendations of the Criminal Justice Section’s Sealing Committee, calling for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to pass a comprehensive criminal record sealing law.

“This is an important report and recommendations. Those who have paid their debts to society for nonviolent federal offenses in the distant past should be allowed to achieve full redemption,”  said NYSBA President Michael Miller. “I want to take this opportunity to thank all who contributed to the report for their commitment to including humanity and compassion in the criminal justice process.”

New York, as well as 40 other states, has a law providing for some form of criminal record sealing or expungement but comprehensive criminal record sealing for those convicted of non-violent crimes on the federal level does not exist.

“The State Bar has championed the opportunity for deserving individuals with long-past, low-level, non-violent criminal convictions in the state courts to have a second chance to make the most of their lives,” said Rick Collins, co-chair with Jay Shapiro of the Criminal Justice Section’s Sealing Committee.  

NYSBA urges the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to pass a comprehensive criminal record sealing law that would:

  • Allow those convicted of nonviolent federal offenses to petition the court to have their convictions sealed;
  • Allow those convicted of eligible federal offenses to apply after the completion of the sentence imposed; and,
  • Direct the Administrative Offices of the United States Courts to create a universal application, available over the Internet and in paper form that an individual may use to file a sealing petition. 

“Our state sealing statute, which was a State Bar 2017 Legislative Priority and was enacted last year, helps those individuals and their families to have better options for employment, housing, and education,” said Collins. “Now the State Bar has spoken out for people whose convictions happened to occur in federal court rather than state court.  All the same considerations apply for these people, who similarly deserve, after many years of demonstrated good behavior, their shot at the American dream.”   

Currently, there are several bills pending in Congress, each with the goal of making federal criminal record sealing a reality. They would allow those convicted of nonviolent federal crimes the chance to petition the court to have their records sealed. 

READ THE FULL SEALING COMMITTEE REPORT HERE 

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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Contact: Brendan Kennedy
Marketing and Communications Content Producer
bkennedy@nysba.org
518/487-5542