Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Substitute Bill No. 453

    February Session, 2012

 

*_____SB00453JUD___040212____*

AN ACT CONCERNING CERTIFICATES OF RELIEF FROM BARRIERS RESULTING FROM CONVICTION OF A CRIME.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 54-130a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(a) Jurisdiction over the granting of, and the authority to grant, commutations of punishment or releases, conditioned or absolute, in the case of any person convicted of any offense against the state and commutations from the penalty of death shall be vested in the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

(b) The board shall have authority to grant pardons, conditioned [, provisional] or absolute, or certificates of relief from barriers for any offense against the state at any time after the imposition and before or after the service of any sentence.

(c) The board may accept an application for a pardon three years after an applicant's conviction of a misdemeanor or violation and five years after an applicant's conviction of a felony, except that the board, upon a finding of extraordinary circumstances, may accept an application for a pardon prior to such dates.

(d) Whenever the board grants an absolute pardon to any person, the board shall cause notification of such pardon to be made in writing to the clerk of the court in which such person was convicted, or the Office of the Chief Court Administrator if such person was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas, the Circuit Court, a municipal court, or a trial justice court.

(e) Whenever the board grants a [provisional pardon] certificate of relief from barriers to any person, the board shall cause notification of such [pardon] certificate to be made in writing to the clerk of the court in which such person was convicted. The granting of a [provisional pardon] certificate does not entitle such person to erasure of the record of the conviction of the offense or relieve such person from disclosing the existence of such conviction as may be required.

(f) In the case of any person convicted of a violation for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment may be imposed, the board shall have authority to grant a pardon, conditioned [, provisional] or absolute, or a certificate of relief from barriers in the same manner as in the case of any person convicted of an offense against the state.

Sec. 2. Section 54-130e of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(a) For the purposes of this section and sections 8-45a, as amended by this act, 31-51i, as amended by this act, 46a-80, as amended by this act, and 54-130a, as amended by this act:

(1) "Barrier" means a denial of employment, [or] a license or public housing based on an eligible offender's conviction of a crime without due consideration of whether the nature of the crime bears a direct relationship to such employment, [or] license or public housing;

(2) "Direct relationship" means that the nature of criminal conduct for which a person was convicted has a direct bearing on the person's fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties or responsibilities necessarily related to the applicable employment, license or public housing;

[(2)] (3) "Eligible offender" means a person who has been convicted of a crime or crimes in this state or another jurisdiction and who is a resident of this state and is applying or petitioning for a [provisional pardon] certificate of relief from barriers or is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Pardons and Paroles;

[(3)] (4) "Employment" means any remunerative work, occupation or vocation or any form of vocational training, but does not include employment with a law enforcement agency;

[(4)] (5) "Forfeiture" means a disqualification or ineligibility for employment, [or] a license or public housing by reason of law based on an eligible offender's conviction of a crime;

[(5)] (6) "License" means any license, permit, certificate or registration that is required to be issued by the state or any of its agencies to pursue, practice or engage in an occupation, trade, vocation, profession or business; [and]

[(6) "Provisional pardon"] (7) "Certificate of relief from barriers" means a form of relief from barriers or forfeitures to employment, [or] the issuance of licenses or public housing granted to an eligible offender by the Board of Pardons and Paroles or the Superior Court pursuant to [subsections (b) to (i), inclusive, of] this section; and

(8) "Public housing" means housing established by a housing authority, as defined in section 8-39 and created under section 8-40.

(b) The Board of Pardons and Paroles, or the Superior Court pursuant to subsection (j) of this section, may issue a [provisional pardon] certificate of relief from barriers to relieve an eligible offender of barriers or forfeitures by reason of such person's conviction of the crime or crimes specified in such [provisional pardon] certificate. Such [provisional pardon] certificate may be limited to one or more enumerated barriers or forfeitures or may relieve the eligible offender of all barriers and forfeitures. Such certificate shall be labeled by the issuing board or court as a "Certificate of Employability", "Certificate of Suitability of Licensure" or "Certificate of Suitability for Public Housing", or any combination thereof deemed appropriate by the issuing board or court. No [provisional pardon] certificate shall apply or be construed to apply to the right of such person to retain or be eligible for public office.

(c) The Board of Pardons and Paroles may, in its discretion, issue a [provisional pardon] certificate of relief from barriers to an eligible offender upon verified application of such [person] eligible offender. The board may issue a [provisional pardon] certificate at any time after the sentencing of an eligible offender, including, but not limited to, any time prior to the eligible offender's date of release from the custody of the Commissioner of Correction, probation or parole. Such certificate may be issued by a pardon panel of the board or a parole release panel of the board.

(d) The board shall not issue a [provisional pardon] certificate unless the board is satisfied that:

(1) The person to whom the [provisional pardon] certificate is to be issued is an eligible offender;

(2) The relief to be granted by the [provisional pardon] certificate may promote the public policy of rehabilitation of ex-offenders through employment and access to affordable housing; and

(3) The relief to be granted by the [provisional pardon] certificate is consistent with the public interest in public safety, the safety of any victim of the offense and the protection of property.

(e) In accordance with the provisions of subsection (d) of this section, the board may limit the applicability of the [provisional pardon] certificate to specified types of employment, [or licenses] licensure or public housing for which the eligible offender is otherwise qualified.

(f) The board may, for the purpose of determining whether such [provisional pardon] certificate should be issued, request its staff to conduct an investigation of the applicant and submit to the board a report of the investigation. Any written report submitted to the board pursuant to this subsection shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except to the applicant and where required or permitted by any provision of the general statutes or upon specific authorization of the board.

(g) If a [provisional pardon] certificate is issued by the board [while an eligible offender is on probation or parole, the provisional pardon] or the Superior Court pursuant to this section before an eligible offender has completed service of the offender's term of incarceration, probation or parole, or any combination thereof, the certificate shall be deemed to be temporary until the [person] eligible offender completes such [person's period of] eligible offender's term of incarceration, probation or parole. During the period that such [provisional pardon] certificate is temporary, the board or the court that issued the certificate may revoke such [provisional pardon] certificate for a violation of the conditions of such person's probation or parole. After the eligible offender completes such offender's term of incarceration, probation or parole, the temporary certificate shall become permanent.

(h) The board may at any time issue a new [provisional pardon] certificate to enlarge the relief previously granted, and the provisions of subsections (b) to (f), inclusive, of this section shall apply to the issuance of any new [provisional pardon] certificate.

(i) The application for a [provisional pardon] certificate, the report of an investigation conducted pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, the [provisional pardon] certificate and the revocation of a [provisional pardon] certificate shall be in such form and contain such information as the Board of Pardons and Paroles shall prescribe.

(j) The Superior Court may, in its discretion, issue a certificate of relief from barriers, in accordance with subsections (b) and (g) of this section, to an eligible offender for a judgment of conviction that was entered in such court if the court (1) imposed a sentence that did not require incarceration immediately after sentencing, or (2) imposed a sentence of incarceration of less than two years. The court may issue the certificate at the time of sentencing or at any time thereafter during an offender's period of probation.

(k) A certificate shall not be issued by the court unless the court finds that:

(1) The relief to be granted by the certificate may promote the public policy of rehabilitation of ex-offenders through employment and access to affordable housing; and

(2) The relief to be granted by the certificate is consistent with the public interest in public safety, the safety of any victim of the offense and the protection of property.

(l) The court may, for the purpose of determining whether such certificate should be issued, request the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Department to conduct an investigation of the applicant and submit to the court a report of the investigation. In conducting any such investigation, the division shall seek input from any victim of the offense. Any written report submitted to the court pursuant to this subsection shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except to the applicant and where required or permitted by any provision of the general statutes or upon specific authorization of the court.

(m) Upon petition by an eligible offender, any court that has issued a certificate of relief from barriers may at any time enlarge the relief previously granted, and the provisions of subsections (j) to (l), inclusive, of this section shall apply to the issuance of any such new certificate.

(n) If the court issues a certificate under this section, the court shall immediately file a copy of the certificate with the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

(o) If a temporary certificate issued under this section is revoked, barriers and forfeitures thereby relieved shall be reinstated as of the date the person to whom the certificate was issued receives written notice of the revocation. Any such person shall surrender the certificate to the issuing board or court upon receipt of the notice.

(p) Not later than October 1, 2013, the board and any court that received an application or petition for a certificate or that issued a certificate during the prior year shall submit to the Office of Policy and Management, in such form as the office may prescribe, data on the number of applications or petitions received, the number of applications or petitions denied, and the number of applications or petitions granted. The board and any such court shall submit such report every six months thereafter. Not later than January 1, 2014, the Connecticut Sentencing Commission shall post such data on its Internet web site and shall update such data every six months thereafter.

(q) The Connecticut Sentencing Commission, or its designee, shall evaluate the effectiveness of such certificates at promoting the public policy of rehabilitating ex-offenders consistent with the public interest in public safety, the safety of crime victims and the protection of property. Such evaluation shall continue for a period of three years from October 1, 2012. The commission shall report to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the judiciary not later than January 15, 2014, January 15, 2015, and January 15, 2016, on the effectiveness of such certificates at promoting such public policy and public interest. Such report shall include recommendations, if any, for amendments to the general statutes governing such certificates in order to promote such public policy and public interest.

Sec. 3. Subsections (d) and (e) of section 31-51i of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(d) No employer or an employer's agent, representative or designee shall deny employment to a prospective employee solely on the basis that the prospective employee had a prior arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased pursuant to section 46b-146, 54-76o or 54-142a or that the prospective employee had a prior conviction for which the prospective employee has received a [provisional pardon] certificate of relief from barriers pursuant to section 54-130a, as amended by this act.

(e) No employer or an employer's agent, representative or designee shall discharge, or cause to be discharged, or in any manner discriminate against, any employee solely on the basis that the employee had, prior to being employed by such employer, an arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased pursuant to section 46b-146, 54-76o or 54-142a or that the employee had, prior to being employed by such employer, a prior conviction for which the employee has received a [provisional pardon] certificate of relief from barriers pursuant to section 54-130a, as amended by this act.

Sec. 4. Subsection (c) of section 46a-80 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(c) A person may be denied employment by the state or any of its agencies, or a person may be denied a license, permit, certificate or registration to pursue, practice or engage in an occupation, trade, vocation, profession or business by reason of the prior conviction of a crime if after considering (1) the nature of the crime and its relationship to the job for which the person has applied; (2) information pertaining to the degree of rehabilitation of the convicted person; and (3) the time elapsed since the conviction or release, the state [,] or any of its agencies determines that the applicant is not suitable for the position of employment sought or the specific occupation, trade, vocation, profession or business for which the license, permit, certificate or registration is sought. An applicant may not be denied employment or a license, permit, certificate or registration pursuant to this subsection by reason of the applicant's prior conviction of a crime unless there is a direct relationship between the conviction and the specific employment, license, permit, certificate or registration sought by the applicant. In making a determination under this subsection, the state or any of its agencies shall give consideration to a certificate of relief from barriers issued under section 54-130e, as amended by this act, and such certificate of relief from barriers shall be deemed to demonstrate presumed eligibility that such applicant is suitable for the employment, license, permit, certificate or registration specified in the certificate of relief from barriers.

Sec. 5. Section 8-45a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

A housing authority, as defined in subsection (b) of section 8-39, in determining eligibility for the rental of public housing units may establish criteria and consider relevant information concerning (1) an applicant's or any proposed occupant's history of criminal activity involving: (A) Crimes of physical violence to persons or property, (B) crimes involving the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution or use of, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, use or distribute, a controlled substance, as defined in section 21a-240, or (C) other criminal acts which would adversely affect the health, safety or welfare of other tenants, (2) an applicant's or any proposed occupant's abuse, or pattern of abuse, of alcohol when the housing authority has reasonable cause to believe that such applicant's or proposed occupant's abuse, or pattern of abuse, of alcohol may interfere with the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents, and (3) an applicant or any proposed occupant who is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under section 54-252 on account of being convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of a sexually violent offense. In evaluating any such information, the housing authority shall give consideration to the time, nature and extent of the applicant's or proposed occupant's conduct and to factors which might indicate a reasonable probability of favorable future conduct such as evidence of rehabilitation and evidence of the willingness of the applicant, the applicant's family or the proposed occupant to participate in social service or other appropriate counseling programs and the availability of such programs. In making a determination under this section, the housing authority shall give consideration to a certificate of relief from barriers issued under section 54-130e, as amended by this act, except as required by federal law.

Sec. 6. Subdivision (2) of subsection (b) of section 19a-491c of the 2012 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):

(2) The Department of Public Health shall develop a plan to implement the criminal history and patient abuse background search program, in accordance with this section. In developing such plan, the department shall (A) consult with the Commissioners of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Developmental Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Social Services and Consumer Protection, or their designees, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or a designee, the chairperson for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, or a designee, a representative of each category of long-term care facility and representatives from any other agency or organization the Commissioner of Public Health deems appropriate, (B) evaluate factors including, but not limited to, the administrative and fiscal impact of components of the program on state agencies and long-term care facilities, background check procedures currently used by long-term care facilities, federal requirements pursuant to Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148, as amended from time to time, and the effect of full and provisional pardons, and certificates of relief from barriers issued under section 54-130e, as amended by this act, on employment, and (C) outline (i) an integrated process with the Department of Public Safety to cross-check and periodically update criminal information collected in criminal databases, (ii) a process by which individuals with disqualifying offenses can apply for a waiver, and (iii) the structure of an Internet-based portal to streamline the criminal history and patient abuse background search program. The Department of Public Health shall submit such plan, including a recommendation as to whether homemaker-companion agencies should be included in the scope of the background search program, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to aging, appropriations and the budgets of state agencies, and public health, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, not later than February 1, 2012.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2012

54-130a

Sec. 2

October 1, 2012

54-130e

Sec. 3

October 1, 2012

31-51i(d) and (e)

Sec. 4

October 1, 2012

46a-80(c)

Sec. 5

October 1, 2012

8-45a

Sec. 6

October 1, 2012

19a-491c(b)(2)

JUD

Joint Favorable Subst.