Representative Goupil talks about SB1019, the Clean Slate Bill

Press release from State representative Christine Goupil:

June 5, 2021

I would like to clarify some misconceptions regarding the SB1019, or the Clean Slate Bill. As written, the Clean Slate Bill aims to help thousands of formerly incarcerated Connecticut citizens convicted of low and low level misdemeanors Class D and E crimes by erasing their files and allowing them to return to society.

First, let’s get a better understanding of the bill that passed the House of Representatives by a 91-56 vote last week.

SB1019 states that if a person has served their sentence and has not committed another offense after a period of time – seven to 10 years – for certain crimes, then their record will be considered erased, allowing full reintegration into society. This will enable them to access opportunities which, without this legislation, are often denied, including well-paying jobs, education and quality housing.

Research from the University of Michigan has found that people are more likely to have jobs and earn higher wages a year after a record is cleared. Based on a 2016 economic impact study, it can be estimated that CT loses more than a billion dollars a year due to the “chains” of post-incarceration underemployment.

It just seems to me that a person is not continually penalized after paying their debt to society. By denying former prisoners the right to housing, employment and education, we increase the likelihood that they will reoffend. This bill protects our society as a whole by offering compassion to those who have already served their sentence, thereby reducing recidivism rates and boosting our economy.

I have seen critical social media posts and opinion pieces that claim this bill allows “… automatic erasure of hate crimes, automatic erasure of assaults, stalking, theft … ”These claims are false and unproductive.

For the record, SB1019 does not include Class A, B, and C crimes. These crimes are not eligible for erasure, nor are crimes of domestic violence or sexual assault. I strongly supported an amendment to the bill that included sexual assault among the inadmissible offenses. You can get the facts about the SB1019 correctly here.

One of the main reasons I am a supporter of SB1019 is that those whose records have been erased will be protected from the discrimination that until now has been legal. They will be able to make a clean sweep, free to provide for their families and participate in society without having to overcome severe restrictions.

Again, I don’t think people should continue to serve a low-level crime their entire life after they’ve already been in jail. This bill also frees them from the difficult process of asking the Pardons and Parole Board to clear their criminal records.

Judicial Committee Chairman Steve Stafstrom said “Clean Slate would affect 300,000 Connecticut residents who have served their sentences” and may be eligible to have their records erased through the pardon process. Unfortunately, most never get relief because they can’t afford a lawyer, pay the fees, or figure out how to navigate the complex petition process. Many of them don’t even know it is an option and as a result only three percent of those eligible for a pardon apply and many are still denied for technical reasons.

SB1019, if signed by the governor, would come into effect in 2023. It’s a bill that represents a second chance for those who deserve one – not for those who don’t.

Christine Goupil is the state representative for the 35th District of Connecticut, which includes Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook.

This press release was produced by the National Delegate Christine Goupil. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

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