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New York Drug Reform May Be Tweaked

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New York lawmakers may make more information on drug offenders’ past convictions public after Republican lawmakers complained that recently approved drug-reform legislation could pose a safety threat, the Associated Press reported June 1.

Reforms to the state’s Rockefeller-era drug laws are slated to go into effect next week, but lawmakers may postpone a provision that would give judges, rather than prosecutors, the power to seal the records of drug offenders who complete addiction treatment via drug courts.

Some GOP lawmakers said that sealing the records could allow individuals with past drug convictions to get jobs as teachers or daycare providers.

“This is one that is potentially going to kill people if it’s not repealed,” said Senate minority leader Dean Skelos. “That means someone convicted of selling drugs on a school yard could be hired as a teacher. Someone caring for toddlers, someone running a crystal meth lab could be delivering medication to your grandmother at a nursing home. And an individual convicted of forgery or grand larceny could be handling your money at the bank or taking your application for a loan or credit card.”

Democrats called such statements scare tactics but nonetheless were considering a postponement and perhaps amending the bill to allow criminal records to be accessible by schools and certain other entities during employment background checks.

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