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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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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer for pardonsAccording to statistics from the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles, there were 1,857 applications for pardons in 2018. Of those applications, only 983 were deemed eligible for pardon, and of those deemed eligible, only around 77 percent were actually granted. Lingering records from previous criminal cases can cause difficulty in many areas of life, including making it harder for a person to find a job or get housing. Because of this, a bill was introduced in the Connecticut legislature last year to help make the process a little easier for those who wish to expunge their criminal records. The bill failed to pass during the last legislative session, but Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont plans to reintroduce it in the upcoming session.

Proposed Bill Would Make it Easier to Get a Pardon

People who have criminal records face barriers to housing, employment, and education, even if years have passed after their sentences have been completed, and they have not had any more offenses. Because of this, Gov. Lamont will be pushing for legislation that would create a process to clear criminal records automatically.

The bill that was introduced last year proposed creating a system for automatic pardons and expungement of criminal records three years after a misdemeanor sentence had been served and five years after a felony sentence had been served. That bill faced backlash about what crimes would be eligible for automatic pardons, with lawmakers expressing concern about those convicted of violent crimes and crimes of a sexual nature. The newer version of the bill has addressed these concerns by barring those convicted of sex crimes or offenses related to domestic violence from receiving an automatic pardon.

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