Governor Andrew Cuomo will pardon thousands of people who were convicted of misdemeanor or non-violent felony at the age of 16- or 17-years-old.
There is a condition: those convicted must be crime-free for at least 10 years to be pardoned. The move will affect around 10,000 people across the state and around 350 people each year.
Cuomo is making the move as part of the Raise the Age Campaign, which calls on New York state to join 48 others in recognizing that 16- and 17-year-old children do not belong in an adult court system.
"We spent all of these years believing that if we punished every offender enough without any relief in the future, every crime would disappear,” said Governor Cuomo. “What we ultimately did was give a life sentence of stigmatization to kids who made a mistake and drive more people towards crime, because society told them for the rest of their lives that that's what they were – criminals. This initiative is about validating the personal commitment of people who turned their lives around and rejected crime in exchange for being a contributing member of society."
Everyone who qualifies for the pardon can apply through the governor’s website. Staff will review the requests and recommend the governor 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, if applicable.
- The person has been conviction-free since that time.
- The person was convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony.
- The person was not originally convicted of a sex offense.
- The person is currently a New York State resident.
- The person has paid taxes on any income.
- The person is a productive member of his or her community, meaning that the individual is working, looking for work, in school or legitimately unable to work.
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