October 22, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Signs Criminal Justice Reform Legislation to Give Formerly Incarcerated New Yorkers Second Chances, Reducing Recidivism and Enhancing Public Safety

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Governor Hochul Signs Criminal Justice Reform Legislation to Give Formerly Incarcerated New Yorkers Second Chances, Reducing Recidivism and Enhancing Public Safety
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Legislation (S.294-A/A.2573-A) Allows Individuals Previously Convicted of a Felony to Serve as Fiduciary of an Estate

Legislation (S.2803/A.5707) Allows Individuals to Perform Bona Fide Work without Violating Parole

Legislation (S.2630/A.5549) Allows Certificates for Good Behavior to Be Granted at the Time of Early Discharge

Legislation (S.2801-A/A.5705-A) Allows Individuals Subject to Supervised Release to Protest Work-related Labor Conditions

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed into law a package of criminal justice reform legislation to give formerly incarcerated New Yorkers second chances, enhancing public safety while reducing recidivism. The legislation allows individuals who have previously been convicted of a felony to serve as the fiduciary of an estate and allows formerly incarcerated individuals to perform bona fide work without violating parole. It also allows certificates for good behavior to be granted at the time of early discharge and allows individuals under various kinds of supervised release to protest work-related labor conditions.

These pieces of legislation build on Governor Hochul's vision of a balanced approach to public safety that strengthens fairness in the criminal justice system while ensuring that New York State's streets are kept safe. They increase economic and social opportunities for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers returning to their communities, promoting a fairer criminal justice system. The Governor's approach also includes measures to make sure state and local agencies safely and effectively enforce the law.

"For far too long, our criminal justice system has taken away the basic rights of formerly incarcerated individuals—especially people of color—even after they've paid their debt to society," Governor Hochul said. "This package of legislation takes positive steps forward to make sure New York's criminal justice system treats everyone fairly while enhancing the safety of our neighborhoods. It's critical that we foster a safe state while ensuring formerly incarcerated New Yorkers have the opportunity for a second chance."

Allowing Individuals Previously Convicted of a Felony to Serve as Fiduciary of an Estate (S.294-A/A.2573-A)

This legislation allows a New Yorker who has been convicted of a felony and fully served a prison sentence the ability to become the executor of a family estate. Previously, the law prevented anyone convicted of a felony from serving as the fiduciary of an estate, even if that person was named executor of the estate in a deceased parent or family member's will. The legislation allows courts to continue to restrict a person's ability to become a fiduciary in certain cases in which the prior conviction was associated with fraud or embezzlement, or in cases in which the crime was averse to the welfare of the state.

Senator Zellnor Myrie said, "Families select fiduciaries to execute their most personal financial affairs, and they should have the freedom to select the fiduciary or trustee of their choice, regardless of their criminal conviction history. By allowing people- regardless of their records- to be entrusted with important family decisions, we aid their reintegration into our communities. I'm grateful to Gov. Hochul for signing this bill and other measures to expand social and economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers and their families."

Assemblymember Charles D. Fall said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing my bill (A.2573-A) into law and for recognizing that New Yorkers should be able to select their own fiduciary for their estate regardless of past discretions. Past criminal history should not play a part in grieving family's decisions to finalize their estates."

Allowing Bona Fide Work without Violating Parole (S.2803/A.5707)

This legislation allows re-entry workers to perform bona fide work, such as overtime or night shifts, without violating parole. It will not be considered a violation of parole for re-entry workers to engage in bona fide work and travel during curfew times.

Allowing Individuals Subject to Supervised Release to Protest Work-related Labor Conditions (S.2801-A/A.5705-A)

This legislation allows individuals subject to several kinds of supervised release to protest work-related labor conditions. Prior to the signing of this legislation, there was no existing law that protected the right of a person under supervised release to protest work-related labor conditions.

Senator Jamaal Bailey said, "This is an incredible victory for justice-affected workers and working New Yorkers everywhere and it would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our partners in labor who fought tirelessly for the passage of these bills. This first-in-the-nation legislation will remove significant barriers to re-entry and expand the right to protest, ensuring formerly incarcerated workers can freely participate in labor protests and bona fide work without fear of violating parole. With the signing of these bills, New York is leading the nation in strengthening protections for justice-affected workers and ending the cycles of recidivism and exploitative labor. This legislation will allow individuals returning to their communities to meaningfully reenter the workforce, overcome the stigma of incarceration, and have their voice heard in the fight for fair labor standards and safe, quality jobs. I want to thank Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Member Latoya Joyner for carrying the legislation in the Assembly, my colleagues in both houses, and our partners in labor for their continued advocacy on behalf of all working people."

Assemblymember Latoya Joyner said, "Welcoming those reentering our communities from incarceration by reducing barriers to employment is the right thing to do," Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner said. "It will strengthen New York's investment in rebuilding lives and enhancing equity throughout our state. Working with partners in the labor and social justice communities this legislation was developed to reopen the doors of opportunity to those who those who are actively seeking to change their lives by removing barriers that have had a devastating impact upon justice-affected workers. I want to thank the partners who advocated so effectively for this legislation, and my partners in government Speaker Heastie and Senator Bailey for championing this initiative. Thank you Governor Hochul for signing this legislation into law - together we are making a difference in countless lives."

Granting Certificates at the Time of Early Discharge (S.2630/A.5549)

This legislation simplifies the process of obtaining certificates, issued by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, that can help formerly incarcerated people demonstrate that they have not committed crimes since being released from prison. Certificates can now be granted at the time of early discharge from supervision for good behavior. Certificates can be shown to prospective employers, landlords and others, and can be shown to local boards of elections as proof that the right to vote has been restored. Previously, formerly incarcerated people were required to wait three to five years after being released to apply for certificates. They also were often subject to investigations because they had completed supervision and no longer reported regularly to their parole officers.

Senator James Sanders, Jr. said, "By becoming law, New Yorkers who have served their time, have a better chance of receiving Certificates of Discharge for Good Conduct and Relief from Disabilities sooner to help them be productive citizens and contribute to society by minimizing the red tape and saving taxpayers money."

Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera said, "New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to work and provide for their families free from the threat of bad labor conditions and parole violations, and these bills make our criminal justice system fairer for the formerly incarcerated. Bona fide work during overtime or night shifts can be a critical source of income for families working to make ends meet, and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers aren't an exception to the rule that everyone should have proper labor conditions. I am proud to support these two bills and I thank Governor Hochul for signing them into law."

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640

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