The ACLU-CT believes in a society where all people, including those who have been convicted or accused of a crime, have equal opportunity to contribute to society and build successful and fulfilling lives. 

Smart Justice is advocating for House Bill 5248, which focuses on job licenses. As amended from its original form, this bill would require job licensure boards to look at people as individuals when evaluating job license applicants with criminal records. Rather than relying on blanket bans based on stereotypes, H.B. 5248 would require job licensure boards to look at whether a person's record was directly relevant to the job at hand, and it would require them to consider how much time has passed since the person's arrest or conviction.

On May 4, 2022, H.B. 5248 passed out of the legislature. It now awaits action from Governor Lamont.



Bill number

H.B. 5248

Smart Justice Fights for H.B. 5248

Alex's Testimony

I want to use my skills to help people. Employment discrimination stands in my way.

Image description: Alex Brown, ACLU-CT Smart Justice leader, stands, smiling directly at the camera. She is wearing a blue People Not Prisons t-shirt and black long-sleeved shirt under it. Her long brown hair is in a ponytail.

"I am currently a student at Central Connecticut State University working towards a degree in social work. I am also a person living with a record. I have experienced the first-hand challenges and frustrations of trying to rebuild my life after I’ve paid my debt to society from my conviction 10 years ago. Today, I am in college, majoring in social work because I want to address the mountain of problems around mass incarceration, and because I passionately believe that all people deserve an equal opportunity.Unfortunately, due to my background, the barriers for myself and others who society is refusing to accept are suffocating, and I know that my next career steps of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker will be especially complicated, if not impossible, due to my record."

Manny's Testimony

There's no room for forgiveness in the current system. That has to change.

ACLU of Connecticut / ACLU-CT smart justice leader Manny rallies at UConn

"I received my bachelor's degree in human services form Springfield College, graduating summa cum laude and becoming the class speaker. And I continued my education even further, by earning my master’s degree in social work from the University of Saint Joseph.

However, I find it extremely interesting and detrimental that I have faced nothing but uphill battles due to my convictions. Our legal systems say if you commit a crime, you must do the time. However, we know that is far from the truth. Our legal system is one of oppression. Once you have completed your sentence you are free to go. The problem is, go where?"

Tyran's Testimony

Barriers to reentry hurt our families, including children.

Image description: Tyran Sampson, ACLU-CT Smart Justice leader, stands, facing the camera. He is wearing a blue ACLU of Connecticut Smart Justice zip-up sweatshirt, a navy blue hat, and has a mask pulled down. He looks serious.

"When people living with a record cannot find work, it hurts more than just those individuals. More than half of people locked up right now are parents, so the barriers to reentry also harm Connecticut children when their parents return to society and cannot find jobs to support their families.

A criminal conviction has the unintended consequence of being a conviction for the whole family. And family problems will become community problems. When someone who is formerly incarcerated has a fair chance at earning a job, they are less likely to commit another crime. Collateral consequences hurt each and every one of us by limiting the potential of our communities."

More About H.B. 5248

When people living with a record are able to thrive and support themselves and their families, we all succeed. 

ACLU-CT Smart Justice leaders crouch in front of the bell at the CT State Capitol. They are wearing masks and blue people not prisons shirts, and smiling at the camera.

Instead of enabling people living with records, Connecticut law makes life much harder for them. Of the over 550 barriers to full civic participation that are written into our state’s law, the large majority are related to employment. These barriers are not relics from the distant past. New barriers are passed out of this legislature nearly every year.

This accretion of collateral consequences can create a daily nightmare for people with records just trying to find work. Because of legal barriers to employment and persistent stereotypes, in 2018, the unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated people nationwide was 27 percent—more than 6.5 times the overall unemployment rate in Connecticut at the same time. These barriers have worsened during the COVID pandemic. Agencies that help find employment for people with records report that, compared to 2019, only half as many job seekers were able to find placements. 

These harmful employment effects are not distributed equally across society. Racial disparities in Connecticut’s criminal legal system are also replicated when people return home from incarceration. Because Black and Latinx men are disproportionately incarcerated, they are likewise disproportionately rejected when they return to the community and seek to build a life worth living.