Ranzenhofer Favors New Law that puts Seniors and Kids Before Criminals; Proposed bill stops criminal records from being hidden
Getzville, NY – Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer added his support to Senate Bill 5684 along with Senator Dale Volker, local school and nursing home officials today which would repeal a provision of the so-called Rockefeller Drug Law Reforms passed by Senate Democrats during the 2009-2010 State Budget. The provision passed last month allows judges to seal the criminal records of certain felons.
Under the ill-conceived law passed in April, the Courts will be able to seal the drug felony convictions and up to three prior misdemeanors for drug felons. The record sealing provision also includes convictions for other serious crimes such as burglary, robbery, auto theft, forgery and extortion. The law takes effect on June 8.
The proposed legislation sponsored by Senator Ranzenhofer would repeal the sealing of conviction records of drug felons who have completed a judicial diversion or drug treatment program.
“If the newly enacted law is not overturned, a person could have up to four convictions on their criminal record and still get a job to care for our seniors in nursing homes, provide child care services for our young children or teach our kids. We must repeal the seal so that our community’s safety has a first chance instead of giving criminals a second chance,” said Senator Ranzenhofer. “This bill is a pro-active approach to preventing a major tragedy in our community. I call on the Senate and Assembly to repeal the seal before June 8 because the public’s right to know and safety comes first.”
“Why the democratic leadership of the State legislature and the Governor would give more protections to drug felons, than to everyday law-abiding New Yorkers, when applying for a jobs is incomprehensible. Our priorities are misplaced. Two questions have to be asked…. Should persistent drug offenders get more protections that those who obey our laws and should these same drug offenders be hired to sensitive occupations that deal with our children and senior citizens without employers knowing if these prospective employees have been convicted drug addicts? The answer is NO,” said Senator Dale M. Volker.
Beechwood Continuing Care President Robert Meiss and Kenmore-Tonawanda School District Superintendent Mark Mondanaro expressed their concerns with the recent reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
“Nursing Homes, Assisted Living facilities and Home Care agencies have always used criminal background checks as another tool to assist us in the hiring of staff. The possibility of any one of us inadvertently hiring someone who has been convicted of a violent or abusive crime, unnecessarily exposes the vulnerable people we serve. I wholeheartedly support the efforts of Senator Ranzenhofer to rescind the actions taken that would allow certain records to be sealed. Full disclosure is the only way we can be assured our residents and staff are kept safe,” said Meiss.
“School Superintendents and Boards of Education should know the prior convictions of any prospective employee who plans to be in a position of trust with students. Parents send their children to school with the expectation that they are receiving the best education possible. This law prevents us from fully ensuring the safety of our students,” said Mondanaro.