Clean Slate Legislation
SB 1019 – An Act Concerning the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Erasure of Criminal Records for Certain Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses, Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Erased Criminal History Record Information and Concerning the Recommendations of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission with Respect to Misdemeanor Sentences.
This bill would automatically expunge misdemeanors from a person’s record seven years after their most recent conviction. Lower-level felonies would also be systematically erased after ten or twelve years, depending on the tier of crime. The bill does not apply to convictions of domestic violence and sexual offenses.
Those with criminal records say their convictions hamper them long after they’ve served their sentence and paid their debt to society.
“My record is a lifelong sentence,” Carrie Perez said. “My record has been a barrier to loans, it’s been a barrier to moving into places because everybody does a background check, and it’s been a barrier to jobs.” cite: WNPR, The Colin McEnroe Show
“Living a life with the criminal record has been a challenge. I don’t think anyone can truly understand unless they’ve experienced it first-hand,” Luis Delgado, a member of the ACLU Smart Justice Coalition, said. Delgado says that he was let go from gainful employment once his employers discovered he had a criminal record. “I had to learn to avoid jobs with background checks because I knew that once my conviction came to light, no matter how good of an employee I was, or how well I got along with my bosses and coworkers, I would probably be let go.” cite: NBC CT
“The system we currently have in place allows for the punishment but not true redemption in moving forward,” said Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven and co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. cite: The CT Mirror
The existing pardons process would also remain in place for individuals who wish to apply before their records are automatically erased, or who have convictions ineligible for automatic expungement. Under existing law, people can apply to the Board of Pardons and Parole to have their records expunged three years after the disposition of a misdemeanor and five years after a felony.
The measure would also require members of the Board of Pardons and Parole to receive annual training on the collateral consequences people face because of their criminal records.
Advocates contend an automated pardon process would go a long way toward clearing the backlog of people waiting to have their records cleared.
The legislation also seeks to protect people who have had their criminal records expunged from discrimination based on the erased convictions. The bill prohibits refusing to sell or rent someone a home based on their expunged convictions. It also prohibits requiring job applicants to disclose erased convictions in many cases.
Sample Letter of Support for Senate Bill No. 1019 Clean Slate for Former Prisoners
Dear [Senator or Representative’s name],
My name is [Your Name] and I live in [Address, Town]. I support Senate Bill No. 1019 because it provides procedures to ensure that there is fairness so that former prisoners have a “clean slate” in order to give them an opportunity to find employment and support within their communities. Too often, minority people are disproportionately imprisoned and then have the added difficulty of prejudice because of their criminal record after they go back to their homes.
Our society supports the idea that every person with a criminal record who has earned the opportunity to return to society deserves a fair chance at supporting themselves and their families. SB No. 1019 creates processes to automatically erase a criminal record after a defined period of time, for anyone living with one, with anti-discrimination protections.
Please support Senate Bill No. 1019 because it provides the necessary legislation to ensure all former prisoners who meet the specific criteria after they complete their obligations will have the same opportunity to have a “clean slate” when they return home.