A criminal conviction has the unintended consequence of being a conviction for the whole family. And family problems will become community problems.

On March 3, 2022, ACLU of Connecticut Smart Justice leader Tyran Sampson testified before the Labor and Public Employees Committee in support of HB 5248, a bill that would work to end employment discrimination against people living with a record. Here is his testimony: 

Hello Representative Porter, Senator Kushner and ranking members Senator Sampson, Representative Arora and distinguished members of the Labor and Public Employees Committee.

My name is Tyran Sampson and I am a Smart Justice Leader with the ACLU of Connecticut. I am here today to testify in support of “HB 5248, An Act Concerning Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions on Occupational Licensing,” a bill that will give people an opportunity to support themselves and provide for their families.

I am fortunate to have a job right now – actually, I was recently working two jobs beginning at four in the morning and ending at ten at night. I had to do this because I needed to be able to take care of my children – I am the proud father to three children. I recently had to resign from one job, though, because the reality was that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to be able to support my family and be able to spend time with them. I want to be able to develop professionally beyond the work that I do now, but in my experience the opportunities to move up in a company and take on more responsibilities are limited, if not impossible, for a person who is living with a record. So, instead of being able to work hard, grow and earn a higher salary, I have to work multiple jobs to support my family.

I was able to get the job I have now because I knew someone who helped me get hired. But I know other men who have been denied employment, including at the company I work for now, just because of their criminal record. 

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.

I hope this committee will note that more than half of adults in the United States has a family member who has been incarcerated. The people who are being turned into a permanent underclass in Connecticut are not nameless – they are our children, our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, family, neighbors and friends.

I would one day like to become an entrepreneur and start my own service company, and I would like to be able to hire people like the men I know who struggle to find a job due to their record. I am concerned, however, that my record and ability to hire people with records will be prevented by the discrimination that exists for anyone who is living with a record.

That is why I urge this Committee to pass HB 5248 and help break down the barriers faced by people who are living with a criminal record. Thank you for listening to my testimony.