'That one act, I can't change it.' Long Island woman convicted as a teen given a 'clean slate' under new law
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Clean Slate Bill Thursday, giving a second chance for some New Yorkers who have served time in prison.
The law will seal a person's criminal record three years following a sentence for a misdemeanor and eight years following a sentence for a felony.
MORE: Gov. Hochul signs Clean Slate Bill, sealing criminal records for some years after completing sentence
Pamela Neely was convicted of a felony drug charge in 1976 when she was 17, and says she is still paying for that crime.
"I can't change nothing about that night, that one act, I can't change it, but I have since changed me," says Neely.
Neely says she often faces discrimination because of her criminal record when filling out applications, she says it has hindered opportunities for her.
Now, Neely has a 'Clean Slate' after the governor signed legislation that will seal convictions for people who complete their jail sentence and remain out of trouble for a period of time - three years for misdemeanors and eight for certain felonies.
The most serious felony, known as "Class A," which includes murder, sexual assault and other charges, would not be sealed.
Republicans in the state have spoken out against the bill.
Executive Director of Victims' Rights NY Jennifer Harrison is outraged that the governor passed this act. Harrison's boyfriend Kevin Davis was murdered in 2005 – the man convicted of his death took plea deal for manslaughter.
Harrison stood with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to say that victims of these crimes endure enough, they have lifelong pain, and it is a huge risk to public safety.
"Somebody has to explain to our governor that it's bad to seal records of violent criminals, it's insane!," said Harrison.