Clean Slate Law to be delayed several months

A new Clean Slate Law was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1, but Gov. Ned Lamont's office now says it will be delayed until at least June.

John Craven

Dec 8, 2022, 12:48 AM

Updated 556 days ago

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Approximately 300,000 people across Connecticut will have to wait several more months to clear their criminal records. A new Clean Slate Law was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1, but Gov. Ned Lamont's office now says it will be delayed until at least June.
Lamont said state agencies need more time for computer upgrades.
"Some of the slightly more complicated ones take a little more definition – requires, you know, a database to make sure that's working," the governor said Wednesday.
The state has already spent $5 million on technology improvements to implement Clean Slate, according to the Connecticut Criminal Justice Information System Governing Board. Despite the investment, a coalition of social justice groups blasted the last-minute delay.
"We believe in redemption, not permanent punishment," said Rodney Moore, with Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut.
The Clean Slate Law, passed in 2021 and amended this year, automatically erases most misdemeanors seven years after a conviction. For lower-level felonies, it's 10 years.
The law will help people like Mark Douglas, of New Haven, who lost his job as a parking valet because two past misdemeanors showed up on a background check.
"I had a good job going, and because of those charges on my record, I had to lose my position," he said.
Another issue could delay the Clean Slate Law. In a letter to state lawmakers, the Connecticut court system raised "substantial questions" about how to implement the expungements. That may require the General Assembly to tweak the law, a process that could take several months.
State Sen. Gary Winfield (D-New Haven), who helped author the law, said it's important to get Clean Slate right – even if it takes longer than expected.
"We might miss the target, but we're going to get it," said Winfield, who co-chairs the legislature's Judiciary Committee. "And if we had done this bill a different way, we would not be getting to that target."
Some Republicans said it's time to revisit the law altogether.
"Unfortunately, this poorly crafted legislation is the result of a legislature that was more concerned with rushing to erase convictions than it was in considering the impacts to the victims of the original crimes, or even how the erasure program would be implemented," said state Rep. Craig Fishbein (R- Wallingford), the top Republican on the legislature's Judiciary Committee. "Now is the time to demand open and expeditious public hearings to listen to the concerns from experts, the agencies forced to contend with these policies and the people they directly impact."
Mark Douglas is worried lawmakers will gut the Clean Slate Act. He said a minor offense shouldn't be a life sentence.
"Wouldn't you rather have me working than sitting around doing nothing?" Douglas asked. "If I'm working – if I'm employed – I'm making a contribution to society. I'm not subtracting."
Even though Clean Slate expungements are delayed, around 44,000 marijuana convictions will be erased on Jan. 1, as scheduled.


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