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Hartford criminal law attorney for pardons and expungementRacial inequality is one of the many issues that have been on people’s minds in 2020. Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others not only because of these unnecessary deaths, but because the criminal justice system is unfairly biased against people of color. Black people are arrested, charged, and convicted of crimes at much higher rates than white people, and this has led to our current system of mass incarceration.

Even if a person is not convicted of a felony or does not end up in jail, criminal charges can have far-reaching effects on their lives. While Connecticut passed a “ban the box” law in 2017 that prohibits prospective employers from asking about a person’s criminal arrests, charges, or convictions on an application, background checks may still be performed during the hiring process, making it more difficult for those with a criminal record to find employment. A criminal record can also affect a person’s ability to find housing, pursue educational opportunities, or participate in children’s school activities.

All of this adds up to limited opportunities and ongoing problems for people of color who become involved in the criminal justice system. While white people are often able to move on from their past mistakes, Black or Hispanic people and other minorities usually do not have the same luxury, and they can end up paying the price for years after they are arrested or convicted. Because of this, advocates for criminal justice reform believe that more pardons should be issued to clear the criminal records of those who have completed their sentences.

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ban the box, Hartford criminal defense attorneyThroughout his two terms in office, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has been influential in implementing numerous reforms in the state’s criminal justice system. Many of his plans—known collectively as the “Second Chance Society”—have focused on rehabilitating non-violent and drug offenders rather than continuing to emphasize criminal penalties. Last summer, Governor Malloy renewed his efforts to help former offenders to become productive members of society once again by signing a measure that limits most employers’ ability to ask about a job applicant’s criminal history.

“Ban the Box” Laws on the Rise

The new law took effect on January 1, 2017, making Connecticut one of 26 states to institute what has become known as a “Ban the Box” statute. The phrase was coined by civil rights groups in reference to the check box on many job applications that an applicant must check if he or she has a criminal record. Proponents of such laws believe that employers tend to screen out applicants with blemishes in their background, despite being otherwise qualified for an available position.

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