‘Stop Punishing People Who Have Been Punished’

Rosa Correa, long active in city issues, knows the value of second chances in her role as director of Strategic Relations for Career Resources. She prevailed upon second-chance leaders to step up on behalf of state employee Carlos Cosme who they believe was unfairly media maligned in the fallout of former State Senator Andres Ayala’s resignation as commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Cosme, they argue, has turned his life around and made valuable community contributions following drug issues a decade ago, points not made by the media. Scott Wilderman and Dan Braccio, job training and reentry leaders, assert in this commentary “The bottom line is that imposing collateral consequences after a criminal conviction has been served is not only vindictive but also counterproductive to building safe and healthy communities.” Commentary sent to media outlets follows:

Second chances have always been an important American value. We often forgive athletes, politicians, and actors for their indiscretions, but when will the press stop punishing people for being punished? Beyond the effect on recidivism and survival chances, collateral sanctions such as those imposed by the press unfairly continue to punish people who were formerly incarcerated for their crimes long after they have served their sentences. This is what happened to Carlos Cosme provided with a state employment opportunity by the CT DMV and now former DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala.

In your story about Mr. Ayala’s resignation, Mr. Cosme’s background inexplicably made front page news, not for the positive things that he has accomplished since his release, but rather for the crime that he already has paid the price for. The press chose not to report about Mr. Cosme’s countless hours volunteering in the Bridgeport community through Project Longevity, a gun violence reduction program, or working with troubled youth in an attempt to sway them from committing criminal offenses. Nor was the public made aware how Mr. Cosme obtained his Associates Degree at Housatonic Community College; nor that he had received a Personal Achievement award in 2013 and citations from U.S. Senator Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Himes. Nor was it revealed that Mr. Cosme worked as an aide not only for state Senator Gary A. Winfield (D-New Haven) as well as former state Senator Ayala (D-Bridgeport). Moreover, the press failed to mention that Mr. Cosme is a new home owner, a productive tax paying citizen, and the proud step-father of a U.S. Marine.

Unfortunately, almost every felony conviction carries with it a life sentence. It has become a Scarlet Letter that is indelibly marked on all but a few. It is hard enough that upon being released, people who were formerly incarcerated face a vast increasing maze of mandatory exclusions from valuable social programs and employment opportunities that impede their hopes of success.

As the Bridgeport ReEntry Collaborative, a voluntary association of more than thirty local agencies working together on solutions to the challenges returning citizens face, we applaud Governor Dannel Malloy and the State of Connecticut for their willingness not only to enact legislation to enhance employment opportunities for those people who were formerly incarcerated, but also for the fact that they are actually willing to employ them. We further support Mr. Cosme in his commitment to persevere and serve as a model of redemption and a beacon of hope for those people who were formerly incarcerated who seek a righteous path.

The bottom line is that imposing collateral consequences after a criminal conviction has been served is not only vindictive but also counterproductive to building safe and healthy communities.


Scott K. Wilderman
Co-chair, Bridgeport Reentry Collaborative

Dan Braccio
Co-chair, Bridgeport Reentry Collaborative



  1. Absolutely. No doubt. Second chances are one of the things that make this country great. Joe Ganim ran for office and endured an 11-month public interview process and background check. He earned this comeback 100%.

    My sense is what torques folks off is there are many wonderfully qualified unemployed folks who are missing the following: Criminal records and political connections. That is the issue.

  2. I might add I personally find nothing at all wrong with the appointment of loyalists to jobs. If work experience and educational background are honestly represented and makes individuals qualified to do the jobs, then woohoo for them!

  3. The article was about Carlos Cosme and not Joe Ganim. Mr. Cosme was maligned in the media simply because he worked for Andres Ayala and not because of job performance. It was that the paper went after him. Kudos to Rosa Correa.

    1. The overarching and predominant subject is second chances. Grin Ripper pointed out, appropriately, Rosa is choosy about whom she deems worthy. The paper has every right to inquire as to what criteria were used for the basis of hiring this gentleman. When we are talking abut the spending of taxpayer dollars for salaries, the folks who are in fact paying the salaries have a right to ask questions and deserve answers.

  4. *** Obviously the second-chance program spoken about by Gov. Malloy and also the second-chance push in our CT court system that’s being acknowledged, is still under the radar with the news media. Mr. Cosme if hired under the political job pretense with Mr. Ayala is probably out of a job with no recourse. However if he was hired under CT’s regular DMV job’s H/R services like everyone else, he may just have some type of a legal claim for no just cause to terminate him, no? ***

  5. Look, I believe in second chances we have see that in my family. If he was not a pedophile give him ‘most any job. If he was a bank teller who stole money no work in a bank. other than that good luck to you.


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