In The Name Of Justice - ExOffenders and Employment Rights sign now

It is my hope, dream and determination that I demonstrate outlining the importance of returning the civil liberties and justices of those who possess a criminal record and are unemployed or reduced to employment lesser than their skill set.

As an individual recently placed in this classification, I have learned first hand what it is like to be suppressed and alienated in my pursuit to gain meaningful employment in my chosen career field. Worse though, is the information I have uncovered that solidifies how this impacts the economic growth and stability of the State, and ultimately the country.

The harsh reality is that these individuals who have either plead guilty, no contest or nolo contendere to a crime, has placed them in a position where they now become reliant on the state for financial support, instead of being a contributor to the growth of the state.

For many of us, paid employment is the primary means of securing self-sufficiency and ensuring our family's well being. This is increasingly true for the most disadvantaged of Americans, those who previously relied on welfare for their sustenance. Culminating in the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, public opinion and public policy in the United States have rapidly and decisively evolved to a view that work - rather than public cash assistance - must be the means of supporting children and families. Moreover, to achieve the level of well being to which most Americans aspire, dual incomes are increasingly the norm.

The social costs for people who are incarcerated or convicted of an offense and their families and communities become more substantial each year. The lasting negative impacts on an individual who has been incarcerated or simply convicted of an offense include:
Difficulties in finding employment when the disadvantage of a criminal record is added to low educational attainment and limited job experience;
Inability to obtain some jobs because of licensing and other employment restrictions on ex-offenders;
Loss of education loans;
And Loss of voting rights in many states, either temporarily or permanently.

I am asking to petition the Connecticut General Assembly to amend the current laws and erase/expunge from their record, people who have served probation completely and successfully to allow them to seek meaningful employment without the discrimination that is placed upon them because of their ex-offender status.

The injustice here is unconstitutional, as it serves no purpose to legally bar people who otherwise would make positive influences in society through a means of employment that suits their skill sets. To subject someone to further embarrassment, expense and ordeal because of an ex-offender status is adding to the sentence imposed upon them.

Currently Connecticut has a law that is not enforced, or is lax in its authoritive power to bestow upon the offender the opportunity to better him/herself and contribute positively to the community through employment. Connecticuts corporate employers deny even the Federal Bonding program, which was designed to offer a federally funded opportunity to help these individuals.

Connecticut Statute Sec. 46a-79.(Formerly Sec. 4-61n). State policy re employment of criminal offenders. The General Assembly finds that the public is best protected when criminal offenders are rehabilitated and returned to society prepared to take their places as productive citizens and that the ability of returned offenders to find meaningful employment is directly related to their normal functioning in the community. It is therefore the policy of this state to encourage all employers to give favorable consideration to providing jobs to qualified individuals, including those who may have criminal conviction records.

If we do not change the laws as they are today for this issue, the current cycle will only contribute to the demise of the state both economically and financially.

Statistical Information
Connecticut
With over 3,405,565 people residing in the State of Connecticut, the number of people who are of age to be employed (16 and over as of August 2002) is roughly 1,717,738. Of those there are 67,902 people unemployed in Connecticut. That equates to about 4\% of our workforce, not contributing to the welfare of the State, but instead becoming dependant on the State for aid. These people are tax users, not tax payers. Additionally, the number of unemployed reflects only those who are collecting unemployment benefits. The total number of people in Connecticut not in the labor force is 71,049.

More than 10\% of those unemployed as of August 2002 have been unemployed for more than one year. Worse though, is the number of people unemployed because they are refused work based their ex-offender status. That number exceeds 5\% of the total unemployed population.

This is not entirely their fault, and may not be of any fault of their own. With the laws as they are today, there is no prevention of discrimination against an individual with a conviction record, thus we cast them to be dependent, not independent; relying on, instead of being reliable; prey on society, instead of positively contributing to society; incarcerated, instead of being reformed.

The cost to the State is roughly $100 million annually, and this excludes welfare, health coverage, housing assistance and food stamps. This figure also excludes the loss from taxable income from those that are unemployed, $6,071,700,028; based on the median household income which is $65,000. Even if one-third of those who are unemployed could not obtain meaningful employment because of job related discrimination related to a conviction, that would still be a loss exceeding $2 billion annually in taxable income for the State.

In a time when Connecticut is trying to stabilize its economy and promote job growth, all we see are tax increases. Well members of congress, here is your chance to gain taxes from individuals who otherwise are not contributing. This is a chance to trim down taxes, promote the economic growth and give back to the State and those that elected you into office by amending the current laws as they currently read, by following the examples of States such as California and Wisconsin.

Bureau of Justice Statistics
The number of people in the U.S. correctional system hit a record 6.6 million - more than 3 in every 100 adults- last year.

The adult population either behind bars, on probation or parole climbed by 147,700, or 2.3 percent, between 2000 and 2001, and compared with less than 4.4 million adults in 1990.

Nearly 4 million people were on probation, 2.8 percent more than in 2000, while there was a 1 percent increase of those on parole, to 731,147. The number of people in prison grew by 1.1 percent to 1.3 million, the smallest annual increase in nearly three decades.

There was a 1.6 percent increase of people in jails, to 631,240. More than half of those on probation - 53 percent - had been convicted of felonies.

Experts noted a recent trend toward fewer arrests for murder, rape and other violent crimes. Many of those on probation were convicted of using illegal drugs or driving while intoxicated.

In addition, some states have eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. California's Proposition 36, passed in 2000 with 61 percent of the vote, requires treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. Most of those drug users wind up on probation.

"The collection of reforms, from drug courts to treatment in lieu of incarceration to sentence reforms like getting rid of mandatory minimums and expanding community correction options, have the effect of redirecting people from prison to probation," said Nick Turner, director of national programs for the Vera Institute of Justice. The nonprofit research group works with governments on criminal justice issues.

However, Marc Mauer, assistant director of Sentencing Project, which favors alternatives to incarceration, said: "The overall figures suggest that we've come to rely on the criminal justice system as a way of responding to social problems in a way that's unprecedented."

The report said 46 percent of those discharged from parole in 2001 had met the conditions of supervision, while 40 percent went back to jail or prison for violations.

Among states, Texas had the most adults under correctional supervision, 755,100. California was second with 704,900. Texas also had the most adults on probation, 443,684, followed by California at 350,768.

Whites accounted for 55 percent of those on probation, while blacks made up 31 percent. Among those behind bars, however, 46 percent of those incarcerated were black and 36 percent were white.

Findings
Employment
This section summarizes some available evidence showing that a high proportion of ex-offenders are unemployed; that ex-offenders face widespread discrimination in the job market; that unemployed ex-offenders are much more likely to re-offend than those in employment; but that, when given the opportunity, many ex-offenders make valued and valuable employees.

In my view, the combined weight of this evidence makes a powerful case for action to eliminate unfair discrimination against ex-offenders in the job market.

A high proportion of offenders are unemployed
Most offenders on probation service caseloads are out of work. Surveys by the Association of Chief Officers on Probation show that in the first six months of 1997 60\% of people under the supervision of the probation service were unemployed. This level of unemployment is around eight times greater than for the population as a whole.

A research project carried out by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) on behalf of the London Offender Employment Network in 1998 examined 26,000 records from the five London probation areas for a one-year period. Of approximately 20,000 cases where economic status was known, the majority (about 12,700 or 63\%) was unemployed (NACRO, 1998). Please note that although this study is a British study, one should not discount its significance. Information from such a foreign study's perspective proves that unfair discrimination against ex-offenders is international.

Not only are offenders more likely to be unemployed they are also more likely than others to have been unemployed for a long time. A survey undertaken by the National Association of Probation Officers in 1993 of a sample of 1,331 people under probation service supervision in 19 areas found that 55\% had been unemployed for more than 12 months. At the time of the survey one-third of all unemployed people were long-term unemployed compared with 67\% of those in the sample (National Association of Probation Officers, 1993).

A recent survey of ex-offenders in NACRO housing and employment schemes found that more than a third (36\%) of those in housing projects had been unemployed for over 12 months, as had just under half (46\%) of those in training programs had been unemployed for more than 18 months. Moreover, many of those who had been unemployed for shorter periods were 16 and 17-year-old school leavers who had not been in the labor market long enough to experience long spells of unemployment (NACRO, 1997).

The NACRO study of offenders on probation caseloads in 1998 included a questionnaire survey of 101 offenders interviewed by probation officers for pre-sentence reports during one week: of those who were unemployed, 45\% said that they had been unemployed for more than two years (NACRO, 1998).

Surveys of offenders sentenced in court and serving prisons sentences have reached similar conclusions. A Home Office study of 21 magistrates' courts and 21 Crown Courts found that of 5,247 adult males sentenced during November and December 1993, 69\% were unemployed (Home Office Statistical Bulletin).

The vast majority of prisoners are released without a job to go to. The 1991 National Prison Survey found that 51\% of prisoners had been in employment immediately before their imprisonment, but that only one-sixth of those due to be released in 1991 had a job to go to on release (HMSO, 1992). A survey published by the Apex Trust in 1991 found that unemployment among released prisoners was eight times higher than the national average (Apex Trust, 1991).

A recent international survey by the Crossroads project found that 68\% of English prisoners surveyed were unemployed before going to prison, and that only 28\% had employment arranged for their release (NACRO, 1993). Also, 33\% of jail inmates in 1991 were unemployed prior to entering jail while 32\% of jail inmates in 1991 who had been free for at least one year prior to their arrest had incomes under $5000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Employed ex-offenders are less likely to re-offend
Ex-offenders who gain and keep a job are much less likely to re-offend than those who are unemployed. Two studies in the UK have compared periods when young offenders were in work (or otherwise actively engaged, for example in education and training schemes) with periods when they were not in work. A study in Northern Ireland in 1980 found that young offenders were about twice as likely to commit offenses when not engaged in work, education, or training as when they were (Gormally, 1981). Another study using a similar approach, drawing on data from the Cambridge Study of Delinquent Development, found that the rate of offending was about three times as great for individuals experiencing unemployment as it was for those with work. The relationship between unemployment and crime "was greatest for those who were the most predisposed towards offending" (Farrington, 1986).

Ian Crow and others commented in "Unemployment, Crime, and Offenders": "In one study after another it has been shown that probationers, ex-prisoners and others are significantly more likely to re-offend at some later date if they are unemployed" (Crow, 1989).

The authors cited 10 studies in support of this statement. Similarly, a review of research published by the Home Office in 1990 indicated that released prisoners were less than half as likely to re-offend if they were helped to find and keep a job (Haines, 1990). An analysis by Mark Lipsey of 400 international research studies on the treatment of young offenders concluded that: "the single most effective factor in reducing re-offending rates, with a positive effect size of 37\%, is employment" (McGuire, 1995).

A follow-up study of 64 released prisoners between three and eight months after release, published in 1996, found that there was a statistical link between being out of work and involvement in further crime. The proportion of people committing further serious offenses was lowest (15\%) among those who were working or who had had a reasonable amount of work even if they were currently unemployed. It was nearly twice as high (28\%) among jobseekers that had had little or no work (Simon and Corbett, 1996).

The strong association between unemployment and re-offending has been acknowledged by Home Secretaries of varying political persuasions. Douglas Hurd, then Conservative Home Secretary, said in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry in February 1988: "A suitable ex-offender employed today may be one crime prevented tomorrow."

Nearly a decade later the Labor Home Secretary, Jack Straw, told the House of Commons in July 1997: "A job is the best help that any offender can get to avoid returning to crime."

Ex-offenders often face discrimination in the job market some employers are willing to employ ex-offenders. Their reasons vary.

They include sympathy because of personal knowledge of individuals who have been in trouble; a belief that, on grounds of fairness and justice, people who have paid their penalty should be given another chance; and recognition that providing employment for ex-offenders plays an important part in preventing further crime.

Many other employers are, however, reluctant to employ ex-offenders. A survey of 700 employers, published by the Apex Trust in 1991, found that only 12\% of private sector respondents and 17\% of public sector respondents said that they had knowingly employed an ex-offender in their equal opportunities policy (Apex Trust, 1991).

A 1997 survey of ex-offenders using NACRO employment and housing services found that 42\% of the whole sample, and over 60\% of adults, had been explicitly refused employment on the basis of their criminal record. The real figure is likely to be significantly higher than this, as many employers do not tell applicants that they have been refused employment for this reason. The experience of one ex-prisoner is typical:
"I filled in several application forms and realized very quickly that I wasn't getting interviews for jobs I'm more than capable of doing. They were basic jobs, jobs that I'd assumed no one else would want, crappy hours, and crappy shifts. You'd be looking at loading, working nights, packing, sorting.... I thought I couldnt go on like this; the only way forward for me is to lie on my application forms. So, that's what I started doing. I applied for several jobs and all of a sudden I was getting short listed very quickly.... And subsequently I got a job" (NAPO, 1993).

The Rehabilitation Act 1974 provides that offenders applying for jobs do not have to disclose convictions that have become "spent." However, prison sentences of over six months do not become spent for ten years; sentences of over two and a half years can never be spent; some types of employment are not covered by the Act; and many employers and offenders are unaware of the provisions of the Act.

Why should employers employ ex-offenders?
Employers should not discriminate unfairly against ex-offenders. This does not mean that employers should ignore a criminal record where the type of offense is relevant to the particular job. However, many offenses have no relevance to the job for which an ex-offender is applying. Moreover, there are certain classifications of crimes that might fall within a category, yet have no relevance to the job sought (i.e.: altering a web site is considered a computer crime, so anyone who has been convicted of this can and will be denied a position which a computer is needed, yet has no correlation to web development or internet usage).

There are several reasons why employers seek to eliminate unfair discrimination against ex-offender job applicants. First, such discrimination is unjust. When an individual has been punished for a crime by serving a sentence, it is wrong that he or she should face additional punishment by being unfairly refused employment.

Secondly, ex-offenders who cannot get a job are much more likely to re-offend. Not only does this affect everyone in the community who becomes a victim of crime including employers and their families, friends and workforce. It also affects business in particular: employers' premises are disproportionately likely to be the targets of burglary (sometimes repeatedly); the retail trade suffers significant losses from shop theft; and retail business and service industries are often on the receiving end of check book and credit card fraud.

Thirdly, many ex-offenders have abilities that can make them useful workers. By discriminating against them, many employers deprive themselves of these qualities and as a result employ less able non-offenders. They are thereby reducing the quality of their workforce.

Many employers, having taken what they initially regard as a risk by employing an ex-offender, have found the person concerned to be a valuable employee and have realized that the same may be true of other ex-offenders.

Dr. Martin Gill's study, "Employing Ex-Offenders: A risk or an Opportunity?", commented:
"This positive impression was echoed many time during the research...there were numerous examples of ex-offenders being offered temporary and/or short-term work as a precaution or test later having their contract extended. Amongst those who had employed ex-offenders experiences were generally positive.... Interestingly some of those who had initially been reluctant to employ ex-offenders were converted on the back of experience."

Some employers interviewed by Dr. Gill suggested that ex-offenders proved more committed workers on average than other employees because of their keenness to improve themselves and put their past behind them. For example, one employer said:
"Most of the ex-offenders we take are very loyal...working for us turns their lives around, they become different people...in general ex-offenders tend to be a lot better than the general public. If for example, we take six on from the general public, two will leave. Ex-offenders are much better, they stick it out, are more dedicated in general" (Gill, 1997).

The Crossroads survey found that:
"Employers show some reluctance to employ ex-offenders. However, the research also showed that employers can be convinced otherwise when they have had a good experience of employing ex-offenders who have proven to be well motivated, enthusiastic, and able to demonstrate good social skills" (NACRO, 1993).

In the Apex Trust's 1991 survey, when employers were asked whether ex-offender employees had proven to be satisfactory staff, 67\% of public and 82\% of private sector employers answered yes. There were only two cases where employers said that an ex-offender employee had committed an offense against the company (Apex Trust, 1991).

Work and economic well-being.
The majority of inmates leave prison with no savings, no immediate entitlement to unemployment benefits, and few job prospects. One year after release, as many as 60 percent of former inmates are not employed in the legitimate labor market. The loss of much of the country's industrial base, once the major source of jobs in inner-city communities, has left few opportunities for parolees who live there. Employers are increasingly reluctant to hire ex-offenders. A recent survey in five major U.S. cities revealed that 65 percent of all employers said they would not knowingly hire an ex-offender (regardless of the offense), and 30 to 40 percent said they had checked the criminal records of their most recent hires. It is possible, however, that current low unemployment may cause employers to reevaluate ex-offenders.

Unemployment is closely correlated with drug and alcohol abuse. Losing a job has similar effects. It can lead to substance abuse, which in turn is related to child abuse and family violence. Moreover, prisoners who have no income because they have no job are unlikely to be able to meet court-ordered restitution owed to their victims.

The "get tough" movement of the 1980s increased employment restrictions on parolees. In California, for example, they are barred from the law, real estate, medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and education. Colorado prohibits them from becoming dentists, engineers, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, or real estate agents. Parolees are not barred from all jobs, but the list of proscribed professions suggests a contradictory approach. The States spend millions of dollars to rehabilitate offenders, convincing them they need to find legitimate employment, but then frustrate what was accomplished by barring them from many kinds of jobs.

Underemployment of ex-felons has even broader economic implications. One reason the U.S. unemployment rate is so low is that 2 million mainly low- and unskilled workers--precisely those unlikely to find work in a high-tech economy--are in prison or jail and thus not part of the labor force. If they were included, the unemployment rate would be 2 percent higher than it is now. Recycling ex-offenders into the job market with reduced job prospects will increase unemployment in the long run.

There are, however, a number of organizations that help ex-offenders find employment. Prominent among them is the Chicago-based Safer Foundation, which offers a full range of services, including job counseling and placement, education and life skills training, and emergency housing. Since its establishment in 1972, the foundation has helped more than 40,000 participants find jobs; nearly two-thirds have stayed on the job for at least 30 days.

U.S. Department of Justice
According to the U.S. Department of Justice - Office of Justice Programs - National Institute of Justice, many ex-offenders have difficulty finding permanent, unsubsidized, well-paid employment after release because they lack job-seeking experience, a work history, and occupational skills; furthermore, many employers refuse to hire individuals with criminal records. These circumstances seriously affect an ex-offender's stability because unemployment is consistently associated with high recidivism rates. Ex-offenders who are unemployed or working in poorly paid or temporary jobs often fall back into a life of crime.


Recommendations
Ex-prisoners are more likely to go on to live stable and productive lives if they have:
A positive plan of action for life outside prison decent, good quality, stable accommodations employment, training, education or some other meaningful activity a source of income (a job or access to appropriate benefits) help to deal with the reasons for committing crime therefore, a wide range of organizations in the statutory, voluntary, and commercial sectors need to contribute in improving the life chance prospects of ex-offenders.

The prison service can do so by extending its provision of vocational training, employment advice, job clubs, job search training, working out schemes and temporary release for job interviews. Job clubs and job search training should be available at every prison that releases ex-offenders direct to the community. Prisons should be encouraged to develop more by working out schemes enabled to make greater use of temporary release for job interviews.

Further education institutions should work with the prison and probation services and the voluntary sector to reduce the obstacles that prevent many prisoners from continuing courses begun in prison. Training and education in prison should be linked with training and education outside. All forms of training and education in custody should aim to take offenders through recognized units of training which will enable them to continue in recognized courses in the outside community. Regime activities should involve outside agencies to maximum extent possible - not just agencies that specialize in resettling offenders but also housing agencies, churches, minority ethnic organizations, and organizations providing assistance in reasons for committing crime.

The probation service can do so by increasing the number of cases in which probation officers make employment related interventions with unemployed offenders, including referral to employment programs run by voluntary agencies. They can also help by assisting ex-offenders in understanding the procedure for civil rights restoration.

Training and Enterprise Agencies can do so by giving a higher priority to the training needs of offenders.

The Government can do so by reviewing the lengthy periods before convictions become "spent" and extending the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 to cover more offenders. It can also change laws barring certain ex-offenders from receiving public benefits. Many ex-offenders face acute financial problems. They may need to apply for some income support.

However, they may not be eligible. Yet the period immediately following release is likely to involve financial demands above the norm, such as money for a deposit or connection services. Nonetheless, ex-offenders should be able to quickly and easily claim public benefits. Otherwise, with no money to live on the temptation to return to crime immediately may be too great.

The readiness of employers to consider ex-offenders for employment on their merits is crucial to the success of all these efforts. Employers should adopt equal opportunities policies towards ex-offenders based on the principle that only convictions that are relevant to the position in question should be taken into account. Such policies should be backed up by good recruitment practices to ensure that ex-offenders are given a fair chance when applying for jobs.

Conclusion
With overcrowded U.S. prisons and jails releasing nearly half a million men and women every year, the question of how to reintroduce ex-offenders into the work force -- and keep them from returning to a life of crime -- is becoming an increasingly urgent problem for fiscally constrained federal, state and local governments. Until society addresses the problem, we are doing nothing more than precluding offenders' participation in modern society. In other words, when offenders are released back into society, they believe that they are free; however, with all the brick walls that they are confronted with, one could argue that offenders are not really free. In effect, their punishment continues long after the sentence comes to an end. Because of their criminal records, ex-offenders are excluded from the mainstream of society, and can too easily fall back into a life of crime. The effective resettlement of ex-offenders can therefore make a crucial contribution to crime prevention and community safety.

"The most important contribution we can make to deterring crime is to promote follow-up programs for ex-offenders after they have been released," said Barbara Margolis, the executive director of New York City-based Fresh Start, a small nonprofit organization that runs in-jail and post-release vocational programs. "Ex-offenders are let out with a few tokens. What do people expect? For them to change their lives and find a job in one day? We must establish a bridge, otherwise we are wasting the billions of dollars spent on the prison system." The bottom line is that policies should be in place to improve the resettlement prospects for ex-offenders. While society has the right to punish offenders, it also has a duty to help them rebuild their lives, so that their punishment is not prolonged beyond their sentence and so that victims do not suffer the damage caused by continued re-offending.

The evidence shows that many ex-offenders want to work, can work, and that work can have a major influence on them for the better. Evidence from employers show that ex-offenders can become valued and loyal employees, yet surveys of employers also show that there is a widespread unwillingness to give ex-offenders a chance by offering them employment in the first place.

Not everyone who is accused of a crime or pleads nolo contendere is culpable, and sometimes it is more feasible to agree to a plea bargain than it is to dispute the allegation.

To go to court and be found accountable of an offense that one had not committed, might possibly lead to imprisonment, and loss of ones home, family, etc., something these people just do not want to chance. Ultimately doing so they will have become a tax user not a taxpayer. This something many of them are attempting very hard to avert today.

Most of those that are accused follow their lawyers guidance to take the plea, and put this behind them and move forward. Most of them do just that, but now the plea is recurring as they have been released from a job or have an offer rescinded due to the background check, and not their capability to perform the job as set forth.

On behalf of the People of Connecticut, I am offering this written testimony in amending Conn. Gen. Statutes 31-101 and 53a-29. Probation and conditional discharge: Criteria; periods.

Social teachings attach great value to human work. While not an end in itself, work is a vital means by which people provide for themselves and their families. Work is also an important way for people to fulfill their potential and use their God given gifts for their own personal development and the good of the community. Hence, all have a right to work and that right should not be infringed upon except for the most compelling reasons.

Accordingly, there are a number of serious concerns regarding our legislation as it is today.

Currently Conn. Gen. Statutes 31-101 and 53a-29 affects the right to work of many, many people. According to the Department of Corrections, as of October of last year over 65,000 people are on probation or parole. However, this number does not include those who are no longer under supervision but have not been pardoned. Hence the number of people affected by current legislation is undoubtedly much higher.

We must also keep in mind how few felony and misdemeanor convictions are for violent crimes. Although rape and murder get headlines, the vast majority of offenses are for less violent crimes.

We also recognize that employers who are willing to hire a person with a conviction record are at times wrongly blamed when an employee commits a crime. But we should not shift the blame for such tragedies from the criminal to the employer. Nor should we deduce that one felony conviction renders a person unfit to live and work in the community. The law already allows employers not to hire people whose offenses relate to the job in question. Employers have discretion to deny work to those whose past conduct is relevant to their employment. It should be noted however, that many employers use this out to eliminate qualified candidates regardless of their professional standings within both the work force and community.

There is also reason to believe that the current legislation undermines rehabilitation and training in the corrections system. Inmates who believe that they will be denied employment solely on the basis of their record may be less inclined to improve their job skills while in prison.

Finally, and conceivably most imperative, I believe that it is up to society, not individuals or employers, to impose punishment for crimes against the community. Under the current law, employers are free to reach their own judgments as to which crimes are more serious and warrant denying a person access to a job. Do we really want this?

Should embezzlement be a greater barrier to holding a job than battery to a minor because the employer cares more about financial integrity than violence? Should a dishonorable discharge be the grounds one is not hired because the boss is a veteran who believes such a discharge is a greater evil than some felonies?

Such judgments should not be privatized. Through our laws, society imposes penalties on those who violate its norms. Once a sentence is completed, and the conditions of probation complied with, individual employers should not impose personal "penalty enhancers" on the offender.

We castrate humanity and ourselves when we deny life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to every individual and their chance to be productive citizens as well as positive contributors to a better life for all.

End Notes
Connecticut Laws
Sec. 46a-79. (Formerly Sec. 4-61n). State policy re employment of criminal offenders.
The General Assembly finds that the public is best protected when criminal offenders are rehabilitated and returned to society prepared to take their places as productive citizens and that the ability of returned offenders to find meaningful employment is directly related to their normal functioning in the community. It is therefore the policy of this state to encourage all employers to give favorable consideration to providing jobs to qualified individuals, including those who may have criminal conviction records.

Sec. 53a-29. Probation and conditional discharge: Criteria; periods.
(a) The court may sentence a person to a period of probation upon conviction of any crime, other than a class A felony, if it is of the opinion that:
(1) Present or extended institutional confinement of the defendant is not necessary for the protection of the public;
(2) The defendant is in need of guidance, training or assistance which, in his case, can be effectively administered through probation supervision; and
(3) Such disposition is not inconsistent with the ends of justice.

(b) The court may impose a sentence of conditional discharge for an offense, other than a class A felony, if it is of the opinion that:
(1) Present or extended institutional confinement of the defendant is not necessary for the protection of the public; and
(2) Probation supervision is not appropriate.

(c) When the court imposes a sentence of conditional discharge the defendant shall be released with respect to the conviction for which the sentence is imposed but shall be subject, during the period of such conditional discharge, to such conditions as the court may determine. The court shall impose the period of conditional discharge authorized by subsection (d) of this section and shall specify, in accordance with section 53a-30, the conditions to be complied with. When a person is sentenced to a period of probation the court shall impose the period authorized by subsection (d) of this section and may impose any conditions authorized by said section 53a-30. When a person is sentenced to a period of probation, he shall pay to the court a fee of two hundred dollars and shall be placed under the supervision of the Office of Adult Probation.

(d) The period of probation or conditional discharge, unless terminated sooner as provided in section 53a-32 or 53a-33, shall be as follows:
(1) For a felony, except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, not more than five years;
(2) For a class A misdemeanor, not more than three years;
(3) For a class B misdemeanor, not more than two years;
(4) For a class C misdemeanor, not more than one year; and
(5) For an unclassified misdemeanor, not more than one year if the authorized sentence of imprisonment is three months or less, or not more than two years if the authorized sentence of imprisonment is in excess of three months, or where the defendant is charged with failure to provide subsistence for dependents, a determinate or indeterminate period.

(e) The period of probation, unless terminated sooner as provided in section 53a-32, shall be not less than ten years nor more than thirty-five years for conviction of a violation of subdivision (2) of section 53-21, section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-70b, 53a-71, 53a-72a or 53a-72b.

Sec. 31-101. Definitions. When used in this chapter:
(1) "Agent" means the representative of the board who handles all investigations of complaints and violations of this chapter;

(2) "Board" means the labor relations board provided for in section 31-102;

(3) "Commissioner" means the Labor Commissioner or any representative designated by him;

(4) "Company union" means any committee, employee representation plan or association of employees which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances or terms and conditions of employment which the employer has initiated or created or whose initiation or creation he has suggested or participated in or the formulation of whose governing rules or policies or the conduct of whose management, policies or elections the employer participates in or supervises or which the employer manages, finances, controls, dominates or assists in maintaining or financing, whether by compensation to anyone for service performed in its behalf or by donating free service, equipment, materials, office or meeting space or anything else of value or by any other means;

(5) "Department" means the Labor Department;

(6) "Employee" includes, but shall not be restricted to, any individual employed by a labor organization, any individual whose employment has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, any current labor dispute or because of any unfair labor practice, and who has not obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment, and shall not be limited to the employees of a particular employer; but shall not include any individual employed by his parent or spouse or in the domestic service of any person in his home, any individual employed only for the duration of a labor dispute or any individual employed as an agricultural worker;

(7) "Employer" means any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee, but shall not include any person engaged in farming, or any person subject to the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, unless the National Labor Relations Board has declined to assert jurisdiction over such person, or any person subject to the provisions of the Federal Railway Labor Act, or the state or any political or civil subdivision thereof or any religious agency or corporation, or any labor organization, except when acting as an employer, or any one acting as an officer or agent of such labor organization. An employer licensed by the Department of Public Health under section 19a-490 shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter with respect to all its employees except those licensed under chapters 370 and 379, unless such employer is the state or any political subdivision thereof;

(8) "Labor dispute" includes, but shall not be restricted to, any controversy between employers and employees or their representatives concerning terms, tenure or conditions of employment or concerning the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing or maintaining, or seeking to negotiate, fix, maintain or change, terms or conditions of employment;

(9) "Labor organization" means any organization which exists and is constituted for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining, or of dealing with employers concerning grievances, terms or conditions of employment, or other mutual aid or protection, and which is not a company union as defined herein;

(10) "Person" includes individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, limited liability companies, trustees, receivers and legal representatives;

(11) "Representative" includes a labor organization or an individual, whether or not employed by the employer or those whom he represents;

(12) "Unfair labor practice" means only those unfair labor practices listed in section 31-105;

(13) "Supervisor" means any individual having authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if in connection with the foregoing the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment, and such individuals shall be "employees" within the meaning of subdivision (6) of this section;

(14) "Professional employee" means
(A) any employee engaged in work
(i) predominantly intellectual and varied in character as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work;
(ii) involving the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment in its performance; (iii) of such a character that the output produced or the result accomplished cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time; and
(iv) requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study in an institution of higher learning or a hospital, as distinguished from a general academic education or from an apprenticeship or from training in the performance of routine mental, manual or physical processes; or
(B) any employee who
(i) has completed the courses of specialized intellectual instruction and study described in clause (iv) of subparagraph (A), and
(ii) is performing related work under the supervision of a professional person to qualify himself to become a professional employee as defined in subparagraph (A).

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Deann HahnBy:
International PolicyIn:
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Connecticut Legislators

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