The City Council cannot expunge criminal records, but Ernie Newton declares in a proposed resolution that the legislative body can create a municipal employment Clean Slate Hiring Policy for “people who have changed their lives, move on from past mistakes and need a second chance.”
A “clean slate” justice reform proposal is expected to go before the upcoming session of the Connecticut General Assembly to expunge criminal records for non-violent offenders after a period of years.
Newton, who represents the East End, wants to apply some form of the measure locally in the city’s hiring practices as well as appointments to boards and commissions subject to background checks. As an example the “City adopt an employment screening policy that any applicant for city employment who after 3 years for nonviolent misdemeanors, 5 years for certain nonviolent felonies, or having been free from arrest or conviction for 10 years not be automatically disqualified for employment by the City of Bridgeport simply because of a previous criminal arrest or history.”
The proposal will be submitted to the Public Safety and Transportation Committee. City Council President Aidee Nieves and East End Councilwoman Eneida Martinez are co-sponsors of the measure.
WHEREAS, a criminal record should not be a life sentence to unemployment,
underemployment, and poverty; and
WHEREAS, about 13,400 people are incarcerated in the state of Connecticut currently; and
WHEREAS, about 5,000 leave prison each year and return to our communities to rebuild their lives; and
WHEREAS, 60% of people who have been incarcerated remain unemployed one year after release; and
WHEREAS, criminal records turn people into second class citizens, barring them from many professions, jobs, housing programs, and more; nearly 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges use criminal background checks, putting employment, housing, and higher education out of reach; and
WHEREAS, on August 6, 2018 the City Council by immediate consideration passed Resolution 144-17 calling upon the Connecticut Legislature to enact “Clean Slate” legislation like that passed in Pennsylvania to remove the stigma of a past criminal record; and
WHEREAS, “Clean Slate” legislation has yet to be passed by the Legislature and many nonviolent offenders who are law-abiding, otherwise qualified citizens in the City of Bridgeport are being denied employment by the City simply because of their criminal history; and
WHEREAS, when after a certain amount of time they have not recidivated, and have stayed out of trouble, those Bridgeport residents seeking employment with the City should be considered for employment based solely on their work qualifications not their past; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Bridgeport City Council that in order to help people who have changed their lives, move on from past mistakes and need a second chance that the City adopt an employment screening policy that any applicant for city employment who after 3 years for nonviolent misdemeanors, 5 years for certain nonviolent felonies, or having been free from arrest or conviction for 10 years not be automatically disqualified for employment by the City of Bridgeport simply because of a previous criminal arrest or history.