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Selected Mentions of Paper Prisons in the News

Waite: With Clean Slate proposal, Schenectady council can get down to business (Feb. 11, 2023)

“After being released, Griffin-Braaf faced a number of barriers as a result of his conviction for selling cocaine, including not being eligible to receive Federal Student Aid. That killed his college dreams. (Such aid would likely have been available to him today.)”

“While Griffin-Braaf persevered, moving up from temp jobs and cleaning hotel toilets to eventually start his own company, many people coming out of prison don’t have the same support networks or meet the same accepting employers. As a result, many people are held back by past criminal convictions for their entire lives.

New York’s so-called Clean Slate Act, which is a bill that previously passed in the state Senate but hasn’t yet passed in the Assembly, would help ensure convictions don’t forever follow New Yorkers.”

“The bottom line is that Clean Slate is not about protecting criminals, as detractors argue. It’s about granting people with convictions a second chance and not letting past mistakes limit futures.”

“The bill has support from labor unions and business groups, including The Business Council of New York State, precisely because of the projected economic benefit. The state loses about $1.9 billion every year as a result of roughly 337,000 New Yorkers who have spent time in prison during their lives and an estimated 2.3 million New Yorkers with criminal records, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Some estimates show even more New Yorkers may have criminal records. Brennan Center research suggests people with criminal records could see their lifetime earnings drop by at least $100,000, with prison time only propelling it higher.”

“The Schenectady City Council’s supportive measure, which was first introduced by Council Member Carl Williams, would help show that the issue resonates in upstate communities. And, in fact, the Clean Slate law would create economic benefits for the city and region, potentially removing barriers to work for the county’s roughly 28,100 living with conviction records accounting for roughly $86.8 million in lost revenue, according to the Paper Prisons Initiative. As the region and city hopes to continue revitalization efforts, it should be doing everything it can to ensure it’s drawing from the broadest possible workforce.”

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