We no longer support this browser. Using a supported browser will provide a better experience.

Please update your browser.

Close browser message


Op-ed: Clean Slate Act Can Strengthen New York's Economy and Communities

By Monica Nation

In 2023, the New York State Assembly passed the Clean Slate Act (S.211/A.1029), an exciting development for supporters of a second chance for justice-involved returning citizens.

According to data from the Brennan Center for Justice, more than 2 million New Yorkers have a criminal record, costing them more than $12 billion in reduced earnings annually. More than just lost earnings, these New Yorkers face significant barriers to securing meaningful employment, housing, education and more due to old records.

Once people have fulfilled their justice system obligations, they should be able to work. It's time to give more New Yorkers an opportunity to get back on their feet.

New York's Clean Slate bill will help with that. It automatically seals certain conviction records for civil purposes, like housing and employment, after a waiting period without subsequent convictions. As studies of similar laws from other states have shown, clearing conviction records decreases involvement with the criminal legal system and allows people to access stable jobs—which, in turn, generates increased economic growth.

The process to clear eligible records can be incredibly costly and complex to navigate, so very few New Yorkers ever pursue the application-based process. Automating the process will have a significant impact in how many people can tap into the opportunity to have their records sealed and thus more fully participate in the workforce.

New York state's unemployment rate ticked down again last month and a large number of job openings remain across industries. With the passing of this legislation, there is an opportunity to help people move on from their records and into better jobs with career pathways.

The barriers created by a criminal record also has a heavy price tag for the broader economy. The latest data on the adverse impact of felony convictions on employment prospects show that they cost the economy—as a whole—about $87 billion per year in lost GDP.

Clean Slate measures have already passed in ten states across the country—most notably in Oklahoma and Colorado, where they passed last year with strong bipartisan support. Last month, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon joined members of the Congressional Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force, including Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), to discuss how the private sector can work with policymakers from both sides of the aisle on this issue to deliver results for communities and strengthen the economy.

Many in the business community see Clean Slate legislation as essential to getting people back to work quickly. Consensus for this legislation exists across New York, and supporters include business organizations such as the Partnership for New York City, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Westchester, and the Business Council for New York State.

For years, JPMorgan Chase has been broadening the talent pool to include justice-involved individuals, including hiring more than 4,600 people in 2022—which represents about 10 percent of JPMorgan Chase's new hires in the U.S. that year—whose criminal background had no bearing on the job they were hired to perform. JPMorgan Chase is a proud founding member of the Second Chance Business Coalition, which includes more than 46 private sector firms like Verizon, PepsiCo, Mastercard and Microsoft, which are committed to expanding second chance hiring.

Individuals who have fulfilled their obligations deserve a real second chance.

Learn more how JPMorgan Chase supports Second Chance hiring to advance economic growth opportunities.

Learn more about how JPMorgan Chase supports the economic growth of New York City