Connecticut’s Clean Slate Law is set to give more than 80,000 people a fresh start this month, as certain lower-level convictions will be expunged from their criminal records.
The announcement came from Gov. Ned Lamont, who spoke at New Haven’s Community Baptist Church on Monday, and received enthusiastic cheers from those in attendance, reports WTNH News 8.
“The idea that minor crimes should remain a part of someone’s permanent record is outdated, ineffective and can cause more harm than good,” Lamont said during the announcement.
The new law, which was signed into legislation in 2021, aims to help those who have completed their sentences for low-level convictions and remained crime-free to gain access to things like education, employment and housing. It also allows for criminal justice agencies to automatically identify eligible convictions and erase them from the state’s system.
“I’m no longer just a piece of paper or what’s on a piece of paper,” said Helen Caraballo, a mother of five who was convicted on a drug charge 12 years ago when she was hanging “with the wrong crowd.”
“[An employer will] look at me as a person and what I can bring to a company. They’ll look at what I can bring to the community instead of what I did,” she added, explaining how she has been denied rental applications and job opportunities, despite having since earned a nursing degree.
Eligible offenses include misdemeanors (imprisonment less than one year), and class D, E, or unclassified felonies (imprisonment less than five years) or operating under the influence.
The automatic erasures will extend only to those crimes committed on or after Jan. 1, 2000, but people will have the ability to petition courts to erase earlier convictions as well.
Exceptions have reportedly been made for sexual offenses and family violence crimes, and stipulations include the convicted person having completed all forms of incarceration, probation and parole.