Addressing the Stigma of Criminal Convictions - Thomas Kenniff - District Attorney

Addressing the Stigma of Criminal Convictions

Crime and punishment is a necessary component of any civilized society. While poverty and adverse social circumstances lead many to the crosshairs of the criminal justice system, we must address those societal ills without abandoning law and order. Yet with justice must also come mercy and the opportunity for redemption. Too many young men and women have seen their life dreams deferred because they cannot overcome the stigma associated with a criminal record. Until very recently, New York had virtually no means for sealing criminal convictions. A 2018 law now permits the sealing of certain criminal convictions, but individuals must wait 10 years before applying and certain classes of offenses are excluded. As District Attorney, Thomas Kenniff will introduce innovative policies that for the first time will provide a tangible path to early sealing. Individuals living with the stigma of a criminal conviction will be able to “earn” an early sealing of their criminal records by participating in a rehabilitative program, earning a college or vocational degree, and demonstrating a commitment to a law-abiding life. By providing this meaningful incentive to individuals that have run afoul of the criminal justice system, Thomas Kenniff believes we can have a justice system that not only holds individuals accountable but helps improve lives. Ultimately this benefits us all, by helping those with a demonstrated commitment to change erase the stigma of criminal record and contribute positively to our community.

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