People who are returning home after incarceration, who have earned the chance to be part of society, should have a fair chance at reentering society and supporting themselves and their families. But Connecticut isn’t doing enough to help formerly incarcerated people to reenter society. Ninety-five percent of people who are incarcerated will return to society. When they do, in Connecticut, they will face more than 600 legal barriers to building a life for themselves and their families. Connecticut voters recognize that this kind of perpetual punishment is not fair or just. Fully 74% of Connecticut voters support the legislature passing a law that prohibits formerly incarcerated people from being discriminated against due to their criminal record in things like housing, employment, and insurance. This support includes 55% of Republican voters, 73% of Independents, and 88% of Democrats.
H.B. 6921 is the opportunity for Connecticut to prevent discrimination against someone based solely on their criminal record in employment, housing, public education and accommodations, insurance, credit transactions, government programs and services, and economic development programs. This bill is fundamentally about fairness, equity, and safety. When someone who is formerly incarcerated has a fair chance at earning a job, housing, and education, they are less likely to commit another crime. Every person living with a criminal record, who has earned the chance to be part of society, should have an equal opportunity to build a successful and fulfilling life. This includes people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, people who have been convicted of a violent or non-violent offense, people who are just beginning their reentry process, and people who have been in society for decades.
Anderson Curtis, Smart Justice field organizer for the ACLU of Connecticut, testified at the bill's public hearing on Wednesday, February 26, 2019.