October 24 – 26, 2018

QUEENS, NY – To mark the one-year anniversary of New York’s conviction sealing law as well as following up on the success of the first series in August, Borough President Melinda Katz and The Legal Aid Society will partner to host another series of “Know Your Rights Week: Closing Cases, Opening Doors” public workshops across the borough from October 24 – 26, 2018. At no cost, attendees can meet with lawyers to confidentially discuss how to apply to seal their non-violent criminal conviction records and clean up their rap sheet.

“Queens is pleased to present another series of conviction sealing workshops with the Legal Aid Society to equip New Yorkers of their rights,” Borough President KATZ, an attorney by trade, said. “The burden of a past, non-violent mistake should not ruin or impede future opportunities for the rest of one’s life. If we eliminate barriers to opportunity, we can reduce recidivism rates, boost our economy and change our city, our communities and our lives for the better. Thank you to the Legal Aid Society and our community partners for this commitment to uplifting families across Queens.”

“In partnering with the Borough President, we hope to reach more people that can benefit from this new law,” said EMMA GOODMAN, Staff Attorney in the Special Litigation Unit and Coordinator of Case Closed at The Legal Aid Society. “The tangible and psychological effects of record sealing can be truly life-changing. The Case Closed project has helped clients seal their records in all five boroughs, and has already seen people get jobs and other opportunities they never would have dreamed of before their records were sealed. It’s important that people understand that their criminal record does not define who they are or what they can become.”

Any kind of criminal conviction can hinder a person’s ability to secure employment, housing, financial aid, professional licenses and more. New York’s conviction sealing law* that went into effect on October 7, 2017 is based on the belief that non-violent offenders who have turned their lives around for the better should no longer have to bear the stigma of a conviction or face unnecessary barriers to opportunity and employment.

Individuals may be eligible to have their criminal records seals if they have one or two criminal convictions total, the convictions are more than ten years old, and they have no more than one felony (violent and certain other serious felonies are not eligible for sealing).

According to news reports, as many as 600,000 people in New York State could be eligible to seal their convictions. However, data from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services shows that only 473 individuals — including 28 from Queens — have successfully done so as of July 2018. During the August 2018 series of Know Your Rights Week events, more than 50 people from across the borough had begun the application process to have their records sealed.

The October series is hosted in partnership with 696 Build Queensbridge, Fathers Alive in the Hood (F.A.I.T.H.), LIFE Camp, Inc., Rock Safe Streets and Transitional Services for New York, Inc. The series is part of Borough President Katz’s slate of Know Your Rights Weeks and a continuation of her long-running partnership with the borough’s legal professionals to expand services across communities. All services and legal consultations provided during the week are free and confidential. RSVPs are strongly recommended at www.queensbp.org/rsvp or 718.286.2661.

*About New York’s Conviction Sealing Law

The law applies only to specific, predominantly non-violent crimes; convictions for sex offenses and Class A and violent felonies cannot be sealed pursuant to this law. Ten years must pass after the person’s last conviction or release from prison (whichever is later) before a person may apply for this relief; the person must have no charges pending, and the person is unlikely eligible if they have been convicted of two or more felonies, or more than two crimes. If granted, the person’s conviction would be hidden from public records (a sealed record would still be available to law enforcement agencies, employers for jobs that require a firearm and pursuant to a background check for gun purchase).

Wednesday, October 24 from 4:00 – 6:00pm

Ocean Bay Community Center with Rock Safe Streets

@ 57-10 Beach Channel Drive in FAR ROCKAWAY

RSVP: www.queensbp.org/RSVP or call 718-286-2661

Wednesday, October 24 from 7:30 – 9:00pm

Redfern Houses Community Center with Fathers Alive in the Hood

@ 1544 Hassock Street in FAR ROCKAWAY

RSVP: www.queensbp.org/RSVP or call 718-286-2661

Thursday, October 25 from 4:00 – 6:00pm

Transitional Services for New York, Inc. with LIFE Camp, Inc.

@ 90-27 Sutphin Boulevard in JAMAICA

RSVP: www.queensbp.org/RSVP or call 718-286-2661

Thursday, October 25 from 7:30 – 9:00pm

South Jamaica Cornerstone Community Center

@ 109-04 160th Street in JAMAICA

RSVP: www.queensbp.org/RSVP or call 718-286-2661

Friday, October 26 from 4:00 – 6:00pm

696 Build Queensbridge

@ 10-31 41st Avenue in LONG ISLAND CITY

RSVP: www.queensbp.org/RSVP or call 718-286-2661