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New York’s Clean Slate Act, pending in 2022 in the New York legislature as S1553C/A6399B, proposes to automate the sealing of criminal records that meet certain conditions. Applying the Act’s provisions to a sample of criminal histories of individuals applying for gig worker jobs, we estimate the share and number of New Yorkers with convictions who would be eligible for Clean Slate automated sealing. In addition, we estimate the aggregate annual earnings loss to the state associated with this “Clean-Slate eligible” population and how long it would take for this population to get relief under current, petitions-based methods. We also estimate the uptake rate of petition-based sealing under New York’s current sealing statute, C.P.L. 160.59.
We find that approximately 60% of the people in our sample would be eligible for Clean Slate automated sealing and that, over time, the vast majority would become available, with about 2% of our sample disqualified due to sex offenses. Extrapolating this share to the estimated number of people with convictions in the state of New York (2.3M), we estimate that at least 1.4M people would be eligible for automatic records sealing pursuant to the Clean Slate Act at the time it went into effect. The estimated annual earnings loss to the state associated with this population is $7.1B dollars. According to official state records, from October of 2017 through Oct 2021, 3,218 people have sealed their records pursuant to C.P.L. 160.59. 1,175 people did so in 2019. Based on our calculations, this represents an uptake rate of 0.3% of currently available petition-based sealing under C.P.L. 160.59 and a rate of sealing that would require ~1200 years to clear by petition the records that would be eligible for Clean Slate automated sealing.

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