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Connecticut Voters Support Clean Slate Proposal

Despite so-called ban-the-box legislation, people with a past criminal history still face job discrimination. (Pichsakul/Adobe Stock)
Despite so-called ban-the-box legislation, people with a past criminal history still face job discrimination. (Pichsakul/Adobe Stock)
February 20, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A majority of Connecticut voters say people who have been convicted of a crime should have a fair chance to get their lives back on track, according to a recent poll.

The poll, conducted for the American Civil Liberty Union's Campaign for Smart Justice, found that 70% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans in the state support laws that allow people to have their criminal records automatically erased after five years without new offenses.

Claudine Fox, campaign manager for ACLU of Connecticut, calls the poll results "very encouraging."

"It shows people believe that once folks have served their time in prison, they deserve an opportunity to restart their lives, to support their families, to have stable jobs and housing and all of that," she states.

Clean slate legislation was introduced in the state legislature last year but failed to pass. Fox says that bill appears to be a priority for Gov. Ned Lamont's office this year.

Fox notes that despite passage of the so-called ban-the-box bill, removing questions about past convictions from job applications, people who have a criminal record still experience more than 500 barriers to housing, jobs and licensing.

"Background checks are still a thing, Google is still a thing, and a quick Google search or a quick background check can often stop people from being able to participate in those jobs where all they want to do is give back to their community," she points out.

Fox says clean slate legislation needs to include ways to hold people accountable if they discriminate against someone based on his or her criminal history.

The poll found that 84% of Connecticut voters agree that the main purpose of prison should be to rehabilitate people to successfully re-enter society.

Fox points out that denying the formerly incarcerated something as basic as housing can make that impossible.

"If you don't have a consistent place to lay your head at night, how are you even expected to maintain a job, fill out your taxes, all those things that society has deemed necessary to be a participant," she states.

Full results of the polling can be found online at ACLUCT.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT