With Assembly’s return, advocates push to-do list

Advocates for changing New York’s criminal justice law have prepared a to-do list for the state legislature when lawmakers begin a brief two-day session next Tuesday.

The parliament’s Democratic leadership has yet to formally announce an agenda.

But after lawmakers narrowly approved a measure in the Senate that would automatically seal many criminal records for the first time, it is unclear how much interest there is within the Senate for a similar measure.

Advocates call for:

  • A bill would make it easier to challenge convictions and expunge wrongful convictions from their records, extending it beyond when DNA evidence turns up.
  • A proposal to address the shortage of public defenders through a student loan forgiveness program.
  • A constitutional amendment to address the issue of pay for those working in prison for extremely low wages, who had been excluded from the outlawing of slavery.
  • A measure would give judges discretion in family court cases where they can continue to allow children to remain in contact with their family of origin when a parent’s rights have been terminated involuntarily.

“When the Legislature resumes next week, Speaker Histi and lawmakers must prioritize vital legislation that has already passed the Senate, including the New York State Slavery-Free Act, legislation to increase student loan assistance for attorneys serving the public interest, Measures to protect limited rights in New York. “Rent-stabilized housing stock, foster care reform and more,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement. “Our clients and their communities need and deserve appropriate legislation.”

State lawmakers were scheduled to wrap up the legislative session earlier this month, and there are hundreds of bills headed to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk for her consideration.

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