Despite being home to just 5% of the world’s population, incarcerated Americans make up one-quarter of the world’s prison population. With forward-thinking criminal justice efforts such as broken windows policing and Rudy Giuliani’s stop-and-frisk campaign, New York has below-average jail and prison populations. Another tool adopted by the Empire State is the Certificate of Good Conduct.
What is a Certificate of Good Conduct?
Determining whether people convicted of crimes have responded positively to the state of New York’s correctional system is difficult. The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision began issuing Certificates of Good Conduct for this very reason.
Ultimately, CGCs exist to get rid of many of the collateral consequences that accompany criminal convictions. People seek out these legal documents to apply for various licenses, occupations, housing opportunities, public offices, and other rights that they lost upon conviction.
When can you apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct?
New York separates felonies into five categories: A, B, C, D, and E. People convicted of A or B felonies need to wait five full years after their last release from prison or, if not imprisoned, their date of conviction — not the date they received charges on — before applying for a CGC. Individuals convicted of C, D, or E felonies must wait three years. People convicted of misdemeanors, regardless of class, only need to wait one year.
To qualify for a CGC, individuals need to have convictions for at least two felonies or want a job in public office, regardless of how many convictions they have. People with fewer than two felonies can apply for a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities, a totally separate document that is similar to the Certificate of Good Conduct.
Anyone interested in signing up for a Certificate of Good Conduct can apply with the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Attorneys who deal with felons’ rights may improve formerly incarcerated individuals’ chances of having their CGC application approved.
Although formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to recover from convictions, the state of New York’s CGC program makes post-conviction recovery substantially easier.