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Pardons on the Rise in Connecticut

November 3, 2011

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The number of ex-offenders being granted pardons in Connecticut has increased dramatically over the past few years. But the rise affects only a certain group: those serving probation. Erika Tindill, Gov. Dannel Malloy's appointee as chair of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, says 58 percent of more than 800 applicants were granted some form of a pardon in 2009, and 48 percent in 2010.

"The vast majority, I would say 99 percent of the people, have never served a day - never served a day. What that says to me is that people who have actually served time, they're not applying because they don't think they can get one."

She says those who have served prison time are often advised that they are not eligible. Community forums like the one she attended recently in New Haven are important for getting the word out that they can apply, she adds.

Norm Pattis, a long-time New Haven criminal defense attorney, is surprised by the increase in pardons.

"I've been telling people, 'forget about it' on pardon applications. I've only done about three in the last 20 years, because for many, many years, nobody was getting them."

Erika Tindill, who took over the agency in May, says one criticism she has heard often is that people do not even know how the pardons process works.

"What I've said is, why can't we come up with some articulated guidelines, some guidance, so you can look and check off: 'Okay, I've done community service, I've raised a family.' Whatever it is, you can show here's how you've given back, here's how you've changed."

The numbers went up after the state funded an agency to help people with their pardon applications and reduced the amount of time required before someone can apply.

Melinda Tuhus/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT