Pardons to New Yorkers Convicted of Crimes at Age 17
I recently ran across an article which I thought was quite interesting and hadn’t realized had been implemented. The Raise the Age Act by Governor Andrew Cuomo was implemented in 2018, but I wasn’t aware that one could apply for a pardon for their crimes during their youth. Here’s the gist of the pardon requirements.
Around 10,000 people will be impacted as New York starts to address a backlog of eligible individuals for pardon. Approximately 350 citizens will be eligible for pardons on an annual basis.
In October of 2019, the First-in-the-nation act will reach all individuals convicted of a misdemeanor or non-violent felony at 17 years old who have been crime-free for ten years.
Cuomo announced that he will use his pardon power to lessen the burden of a criminal conviction for people convicted of non-violent crimes when they were minors, and who have lived crime-free for at least 10 years. This action advances the principles from his Raise the Age Campaign, which calls upon New York to join 48 other states in recognizing that 16 and 17-year-old children do not belong in the adult court system.
This step recognizes that people can move beyond the mistakes they make in their youth. If burdened with a conviction of any kind, these youth may find it extremely difficult for them to find work, get admitted to college, find a place to live, and become licensed in certain occupations. This move allows deserving individuals to move forward with their lives.
By pardoning New Yorkers who have reached the ten-year period crime-free, this step will help those who present little danger to the public. However, the pardon will be on a conditional basis, which means that if a person is reconvicted, their pardon will be withdrawn.
This will affect a significant number of lives. Of 16- and 17-year old’s who committed misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, approximately 10,000 have not been reconvicted after at least 10 years. This means that approximately 350 people convicted as 16- and 17-year olds of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies remain conviction-free after 10 years.
In order for an individual to be eligible for this pardon, they must go through a careful screening process. All people who believe that they qualify for this pardon are invited to apply through the New York State website, ny.gov/services/apply-clemency. After being vetted, agency staff members will make a recommendation to the Governor to grant a pardon if:
- The person was 16 or 17 at the time they committed the crime for which they were convicted.
- At least 10 years have passed since the person was either convicted of the crime or released from a period of incarceration for that crime.
- The person has been conviction-free since.
- The person was convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony.
- The person was not convicted of a sex offense.
- The person is currently a New York State resident.
- The person has paid taxes on income.
- The person is a productive member their community, meaning that the individual is working, looking for work, in school or legitimately unable to work.
In addition to this general invitation to apply, the Governor will do targeted outreach to candidates for the pardon. Administrative staff will review and attempt to contact those convicted of qualifying crimes committed while they were 16 or 17 and who have stayed conviction-free. They will be informed of their initial eligibility for a pardon and invited to apply, using the website.
This step will tremendously alleviate barriers for people with criminal convictions.
This conditional pardon is a direct advancement to the Raise the Age agenda of Governor Cuomo.