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CUNY/SUNY Scholarships

Here at Policy, Inc. we are advocating for the immediate implementation of a pilot program which will begin to mitigate some of the harm done to not just the wrongfully convicted individuals, but their family, and by extension the community they have been taken from. Which as we now know, clearly have led to a denial of their gifts and contributions to these communities, and caused cozening of their reputations to the public at large. Our initiative is aligned with our vision, where every person is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness, regardless of their race or socio-economic status.

Vision of a Just and Equitable Society

Access to quality education is an imperative in any society where one desires to function at a reasonable level. However, access to higher education is becoming more and more significant in the competitive social climate we are facing today. We at Policy, Inc. feel that this access is one of the most important elements to criminal justice reform. Higher education improves the quality of life of all citizens but for those who are formerly incarcerated and their families, the intrinsic value of being able to access a higher education is raised multifold as it is a pathway to a new start in society.

Wrongful Conviction Recovery Scholarships

We understand that wrongful convictions can have a devastating impact on families, often leading to financial struggles that can last for years. These wrongfully convicted households are denied economic opportunity and have their lives shattered. The establishment of the wrongful conviction recovery scholarships offers men and women who were wrongfully convicted and their children, the ability to apply for a scholarship to complete an undergrad degree at the City University of New York or an institution of the State University of New York including the statutory colleges at Cornell, the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse and the College of Ceramics at Alfred within New York State. 

Other restorative justice initiatives eliminate major barriers to higher education for formerly incarcerated families by expanding support programs through secondary education funding. The social return from investment in education allows a family to increase their social and economic mobility while reducing poverty rates. The National Center for Educational Statistics found that the rates of 16 to 24-years-old students from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.

16 to 24-years-old students from low income families are 7x more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes

Education as Key to Opportunities and Social Mobility

By implementing this Scholarship initiative, New York State shows that it is committed to correcting the injustices experienced by wrongfully convicted individuals. We believe that education is the key to unlocking opportunities and promoting social mobility. It is evident that education is a quality of life indicator that cannot be ignored. The Prison Policy Initiative’s study in 2018 also found that 25% of all formerly incarcerated persons have less than a high school education or its equivalent, in comparison to the 90% of the general population who completed high school.

Financial Benefits of Higher Education

Receiving a higher education also raises the probability of a person securing employment and a livable wage. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2020) the median earnings of those with a master’s or higher degree were $69,700, some 17 percent higher than the earnings of those with a bachelor’s degree ($59,600). In the same year, the median earnings of those with a bachelor’s degree were 63 percent higher than the earnings of those who completed high school ($36,600). The median earnings of those who completed high school were 23 percent higher than the earnings of those who completed less than high school ($29,800). 

Individuals with college degrees earn significantly more than those without. A person with a master’s degree or higher earns 133% more than someone with less than a high school education. Our proposed scholarship initiative is designed to provide financial support for SUNY and CUNY tuition. Eligible households of wrongfully convicted individuals can receive scholarships based on the living tree while incarcerated.

Proposed Scholarship Initiative

We understand that the funds needed to have a full scholarship for wrongfully convicted people in New York must be designed within the confines of the state budget or legislation. We also understand that it is within the powers of the SUNY and CUNY chancellors to implement a pilot program providing such scholarships. We hope to, through policy discretion within the powers of the chancellors, to provide the first 10 – 15 exonerees and their families trees with scholarships.

25% of all formerly incarcerated persons have less than a high school education

Commitment to Vulnerable Citizens

As a society we are judged by how we provide for our most vulnerable citizens. The formerly incarcerated already have multiple barriers to their societal mobility, i.e. Housing, Employment etc. The fact is, those who are wrongfully convicted are dealt even more damaging discordances in their journey of a successful transition back into society. We are a demographic that because of an epidemic of newly exposed injustices have increased by numbers that should not be reflected, nor accepted, in a self proclaimed civilized society. We belong to a club that no one volunteers for, nor celebrates induction into.

Join Us in Creating Positive Change

At Policy, Inc., we are committed to using our resources to promote justice and equity in our society. We believe that providing financial support for education is one way we can help families impacted by wrongful conviction to build a brighter future. Join us in our mission to create positive change and promote justice for all.

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Section 1

establishes legislative intent

Section 2

establishes procedures and parameters for sealing criminal convictions.

Section 3

establishes requirements for sealed records.

Section 4

establishes authority to promulgate forms, procedures, and processes for the sealing of records.

Section 5

incorporates records sealed under this legislation into exist-ing prohibitions against discrimination.

Section 6

address sealing of corrections records.

Section 7

establishes a private right of action.

Section 8

establishes severability.

Section 9

the effective date.