Wednesday the Judiciary Committee heard about a bill that would wipe clean the criminal records of some low-level offenders.
“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 said.
Delgado, a member of the ACLU’s Smart Justice Coalition, was convicted on a marijuana charge when he was 18. He said he struggled to find work.
“I had to learn to avoid jobs with background checks because I knew once my conviction came to light-- no matter how good of an employee I was or no matter how well I got along with my boss and coworkers -- I would probably be let go,” Delgado said.
He said he was let go twice.
A bill up for a public hearing Wednesday would provide automatic erasure of misdemeanor and some lower-level felony charges seven to 12 years after the date of conviction.
“The board only supports automatic erasure for low level misdemeanors and believes that change is unnecessary to certain provisions which impact the pardon power,” Carleton Giles says.
Giles, chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said they believe the process that’s in place now for someone to request erasure of their criminal record works.
“Automatic erasure is going to preclude input from victims of crimes,” Giles said.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Gary Winfield said he wonders how they can judge a person 20 years after a crime was committed.
“I wonder what it is we actually think we know about the person that’s in front of us. Because I don’t think we know anything at all about the person who is in front of us when we look at that record,” Winfield said.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said this bill will potentially benefit 7,000 Hartford residents.
“Clean slate is not about commuting sentences or reducing time served. It’s about whether we believe that perpetual punishment is beneficial to our society as a whole,” Bronin said.
Bronin acknowledged there need to be exceptions for domestic violence and crimes against children.
“Not every mistake should be wiped clean,” Bronin said.