Testimony on SB 403: AAC The Board of Pardons and Paroles, Erasure of Criminal Records for Certain Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses and Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Criminal History Record Information

Judiciary Committee

March 9, 2020

Submitted By: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter representing over 2400 members supports SB 403.

Many social work clients report that the current pardon process is difficult to understand, uneven and lacking in transparency.  People report they cannot successfully complete the application without the help of a lawyer which is not financially realistic. Because of the difficult process and seemingly arbitrary denials, many returning citizens give up on the bureaucratic pardon process and continue to be barred from many job and housing options. The expungement of criminal records provided by SB 403 would open new opportunities and allow these citizens to truly rebuild their lives.

Requiring proper training of the Board of Pardons and Paroles will helped to assure that the Board members fully appreciate the challenges that persons with a criminal record face. Likewise, by requiring a written statement by the Board when an application is denied will give transparency, help the applicant to understand the decision of the Board and put such decisions into the public record. Additionally, having a deputy warden to serve as director of reentry services and establishing a reentry employment advisory board will heighten the importance of reentry and should lead increases in successful reentry.

The current system has a particularly negative impact on Blacks and Hispanics, who are incarcerated at much higher rates than other racial groups. Systemic racism already makes it more difficult for Blacks and Hispanics to find employment and housing. Add to this a criminal record for a past misdemeanor or felony, and we are re-sentencing these former inmates to a life of struggle, rather than aiding them to become productive citizens.

SB 403 is a way toward giving individuals a second chance and by doing so, we will reduce the need for social service interventions and increase the opportunities for formerly incarcerated persons to successfully rebuild their lives.


  1. When leaving the prison system our Americans are leaving a system where they, more than likely, made connects. When they are thrust back into civilian life they may have little to no connections and feel alone in a world where they are no longer wanted. Even with immense efforts to create a new connection individuals are burdened by past faults when they are forced to be honest. When honesty denies you opportunities and the civilian world rejects you for your past what connections can you make. Without connection and with rejection people with a burdened history may find purpose just out of reach. Helping to sever the connections made in the prison system requires that the civilian world help create new ones. A way to do this is to give the individual leaving the corrections system a corrected starting point. A way to loosen the burden of shame and failure. A fresh start to gaining new connections that will encourage a healthy life for all within that connection. Allowing records to be cleaned in a clear, understandable, cheep and enlightening way will help fuel the first step to finding a place within American society so we Americans can grow as a nation.

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