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A Rocky Reform Loophole

 

    New York Post, Editorial

    June 3, 2009

     Weakening New York's supposedly "draconian" Rockefeller-era drug laws was always a risky proposition. At best, the reforms to the drug code signed by Gov. Paterson in April -- which go into effect next week -- symbolized a worrisome retreat from a no-nonsense criminal-justice mentality.

    At worst, the legislation, which abolished mandatory minimums for most drug crimes, threatens to turn loose scores of dangerous criminals.

    Turns out, New Yorkers had no idea.

    A recently discovered loophole in the new law would allow non-violent offenders, including drug dealers, to work as teachers and day-care workers while leaving potential employers clueless.

    All they'd need to do is convince a judge they'd been "rehabilitated."

    The law allows judges to seal the records of offenders who have completed court-ordered drug rehab programs.

    This means that a convicted burglar could get a job as a bank teller -- so long as a judge decides his crime came as the result of drug addiction.

    It's all quite mad. But it's also the consequence of a political class that's forgotten what a menace crime once was.

    Then again, if Albany pols succeed in seeing that serious crimes come with effectively no penalty, the state will surely head straight back in that direction.

    Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Queens) has introduced a bill that would restore employers' ability to obtain accurate criminal background checks on prospective employees. Good for him.

    We just hope it's not too late.