Prohibits public officials from releasing sealed juvenile police records; makes such official misconduct a class A misdemeanor.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the family court act and the penal law, in relation to prohibiting public officials from unsealing juvenile police records
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To prevent the unsealing and release of information contained in juvenile offender records by public officials and/or employees by making the offense punishable under the penal law.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
This bill amends section 1 of the Family Court Act by adding a new section 381.4 to provide that, unless authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction, the release by a public official and/or an employee of juvenile offender records, and other court records that have been, and are sealed, shall be specifically prohibited by law. Section 195.00 of the Penal Law is also amended to provide that, unless authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction, the release by an appointed or elected public official and/or a public employee of juvenile offender records and other court records that have been, and are sealed pursuant to law, shall be an act of official misconduct.
Under current law, juvenile offender records, inclusive of the records and entire documents, are sealed after adjudication to protect the privacy of the entire proceeding. State laws specifically and directly restrict the access to and disclosure of the information and the record. But, while the law clearly makes the release of the record unlawful, there is no specific penalty attached for violation of the law. The people most likely to have access to these records, and therefore most likely to be the conduit for release and disclosure are public employees, and appointed and elected officials. Because no specific penalty or consequence is prescribed by current law, the only real deterrent is moral or ethical obligation. Recent behavior by high ranking officials in N.Y.C. has demonstrated that in the absence of moral/ethical obligations, the law without teeth does not always work. This bill, if enacted, would put teeth in the law by providing for penalties appropriate for such misconduct by public officials and employees who dishonor their oath of office.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2009-10: S.7143/A.3370 (Perry) Reported and Committed to Codes 2007-08: A.5060 2005-06: A.5017 2003-04: A.6714 2001-02: A.7080
No fiscal implications to the state.
This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3275 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 15, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. HASSELL-THOMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families AN ACT to amend the family court act and the penal law, in relation to prohibiting public officials from unsealing juvenile police records THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The family court act is amended by adding a new section 381.4 to read as follows: S 381.4. PROHIBITION OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO UNSEAL POLICE RECORDS. UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION, THE RELEASE BY AN APPOINTED OR ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICIAL OR AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS A CARETAK- ER OF JUVENILE OFFENDER RECORDS OR OTHER COURT RECORDS THAT HAVE BEEN SEALED PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE IS PROHIBITED. S 2. Section 195.00 of the penal law is amended by adding a new subdi- vision 3 to read as follows: 3. HE OR SHE IS AN APPOINTED OR ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICIAL OR A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE WHO IS THE CARETAKER OF JUVENILE OFFENDER RECORDS OR OTHER COURT RECORDS THAT HAVE BEEN SEALED PURSUANT TO LAW, AND HE OR SHE KNOW- INGLY RELEASES SUCH SEALED JUVENILE OFFENDER RECORDS OR OTHER COURT RECORDS WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION BY AN ORDER OF A COURT OF COMPETENT JURIS- DICTION. S 3. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD07093-01-1