Bipartisan Support to Help Ex-Offenders Rebuild their Lives [Courant]

March 31, 2017

Hartford Courant

Top lawmakers from both sides of the aisle voiced support for initiatives to help ex-offenders rebuild their lives after serving time in prison.

“Are you going to put the mark of Cain on someone for the rest of their lives and take them out of a workforce because they made a stupid mistake or they have issues?” asked Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven.

Fasano and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, both attended a legislative breakfast Tuesday morning to herald the findings of a newly released survey of Connecticut employers. The survey found broad support for efforts to give ex-offenders a second chance.

The survey of 311 employers found that 95 percent of respondents agreed that hiring previously incarcerated individuals can help turn them into productive members of society. The poll, conducted by Harris Poll for the Malta Justice Initiative between June and October of 2016, was released this week.

Duff said the conversation about helping ex-offenders rebuild their lives shouldn’t be limited to the legislature. “You’re continuing to see other groups outside of government talk about criminal justice reform as a way…to provide folks with treatment….and a path to a honest and clean life,” Duff said.

He said efforts over the last few years have convinced reluctant lawmakers that giving ex-offenders a second is not being ‘soft on crime” but rather a smart strategy that saves money.

“The legislation we’ve passed in the last few years…has helped changed the conversation,” Duff said.

Fasano applauded businesses who give the formerly incarcerated a job. He said lawmakers may consider measures to promote such programs.