New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed pardons for 10,000 former juvenile offenders in order, he says, to allow them to leave their past off applications for employment and credit.
The governor’s provisional pardon maintains that offenders who were under 18 at the time of their arrest will have their past records of small-time offenses erased after a decade, as long as they are not convicted of any other crime in the meantime.
Cuomo told WNYC radio that most of the pardons will affect juveniles with small offense drug cases. He insisted that young people can make mistakes, but those missteps shouldn’t mean lifelong hardships preventing them from getting credit or applying for a job.
The Democratic governor, though, does not support eliminating the question of past offenses from job applications, saying that it removes the right of employers to protect themselves.
Still, the move to eliminate “the box” asking applicants if they have a criminal history has gained steam over the last few years. Calling it the Fair Chance Act, the New York City Council, for instance, already voted to prevent companies in the city from asking applicants if they have a criminal history.
But Cuomo does support other moves to help ease the bad reputation that youthful crimes can force onto young offenders.
“Cuomo advocates raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18,” WNYT reported. Cuomo went on, saying the move represents a “critical step in improving access to education, employment and housing.”
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