Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6582

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CONNECTICUT SENTENCING COMMISSION WITH RESPECT TO CERTIFICATES OF REHABILITATION.

Vote Date:

4/16/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/11/2013

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill seeks to increase the effectiveness of the existing provisional pardon statute by authorizing parole release panels to issue such “pardons” and allow probation officers to issue “certificates of rehabilitation” to probationers whose employment prospects would be enhanced by such a certificate.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Technical change.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Judicial Branch External Affairs Division, Testimony Submitted by Hon. Robert J. Devlin, Jr.: Supports the bill and believes that the goals of S.B. 1063, An Act Concerning the Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act, can be better addressed through this bill as it has been carefully considered by the Sentencing Commission over the past year and a half.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut Sentencing Commission, Andrew J. Clark & Atty. Sarah Russell: The proposed legislation would create a “Certificate of Rehabilitation” which could be granted by both the Court Support Services Division and the Board of Pardons and Paroles and would have the same purpose and legal effect as a provisional pardon. The legislation would also expedite the process for obtaining relief, provide greater guidance to licensing agencies and state employers, and give employers who hire rehabilitated individuals some protection against lawsuits. More specifically, the legislation would: Revise current law to allow the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch to issue “Certificates of Rehabilitation;” Retain the authority of the Board of Parsons and Paroles to issue provisional pardons; ensure the safety of victims by providing that both provisional pardons and certificates of rehabilitation be granted only if consistent with the safety of any victim of the offense; provide that a provisional pardon/certificate of rehabilitation establish a rebuttable “presumption of rehabilitation” in the state employment and licensing context; afford employers limited protection in negligent hiring suits; and require the sentencing commission to evaluate the effectiveness of provisional pardons and certificates of rehabilitation.

Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (CCDLA), Moira Buckley: This bill will reduce the barriers faced by individuals with prior criminal convictions to employment, licensing, and public housing. Unemployment and homelessness increases the likelihood that an individual will recidivate. Reducing the hurdles to employment and housing, in the right circumstances, will only benefit society by giving these individuals the ability to support themselves and reintegrate themselves into society.

City of New Haven, Althea Marshall Brooks: Supports this bill as Community Services Administrator of the City of New Haven. This bill will provide a means of removing legal barriers arising from a criminal record separate and apart from seeking pardon which has limitations for reentrants due to the fractional number that are granted. Certificates of Rehabilitation are an essential resource states can offer to support reentry – and thus promote public safety – by lifting statutory bars to jobs, licenses or other necessities such as housing that result from a conviction history. The reforms proposed in the bill are similar to measures that have been successfully implemented in two other states, New York and Illinois, where individuals with criminal convictions can apply for Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct. Certificates of Rehabilitation benefit job seekers, employers, and the state in many ways.

Seifert and Hogan, Attorneys at Law, Beth A. Hogan, Esq.: Supports the objective of the Certificate of Rehabilitation to individuals with prior convictions which may hopefully remove barriers to employment.

New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc., Atty. Alexis Smith: As of July 1, 2012 there were approximately 16,591 individuals incarcerated in Connecticut prisons. The vast majority of these men and women will reenter society at some point, in search of employment, housing, and other life sustaining benefits, but a criminal record is a tremendous barrier to secure all of these. This bill, much like the provisional pardon, provides the Board with another alternative for individuals in need of a relief to the barriers of a criminal record but who may not yet be ready for a full pardon. A recent study conducted by the State Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division of the Office of Policy and Management followed 14,398 male sentenced offenders after their release or discharge in 2005. Within 5 years of release, 79% were re-arrested, 69% were convicted of a new crime and 50% returned to prison with a new sentence. While a Certificate of Relief would not erase one's record, it does demonstrate the Board's recognition that the individual has made efforts to rehabilitate oneself and move beyond one's criminal record. A Certificate of Relief could also serve as a stepping stone to achieving a full pardon which is the ultimate demonstration of rehabilitation.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None expressed.

Reported by: Ross Gionfriddo

Date: 4/24/13