HARTFORD, Conn. — State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113th) and Ben McGorty (R-122nd) voted against a bill Thursday night that would automatically conceal a broad range of criminal and misdemeanor offenses from Connecticut employers and landlords during a criminal background check.
Senate Bill 1019, which was referred to the House following a party-line vote in the Senate, would erase all Class E and certain Class D felonies from an individual’s criminal record after a defined period, including certain hate crimes, criminally negligent homicide and the possession of a firearm on school grounds.
A successful maneuver by House Republicans early in the evening precluded certain class D felonies and class A misdemeanors from erasure under the final bill, while requiring that victims be notified prior to the erasure of crimes committed against them.
Perillo and McGorty also worked closely with members of both parties to include language focused on recent car thefts by juveniles, including the creation of a state task force to deter repeat youth offenders and a new offense classification for enticing a minor to commit auto theft.
But additional amendments offered by Republicans to prevent the automatic erasure of certain crimes against children and bribery offenses were defeated as the majority of House Democrats voted to block the changes.
“First, Democratic legislators turned a blind eye to repeat juvenile car theft offenders. Now, they’re continuing down the dangerous path of protecting the criminals and ignoring their victims,” said Rep. Perillo, who serves as Deputy House Republican Leader. “Yes, Republicans were able to make some minor improvements to the bill and managed to address car thefts, but our other amendments were rejected. These amendments would have removed hate crimes, and crimes against women, children, and animals, from the list of offenses subject to automatic erasure. This bill is supposed to be about second chances, but that’s a hard sell for me when I look at the list of crimes that will now be expunged and I ask myself, did the people who committed these offenses offer the same show of mercy to their victims?”
“While I was pleased with bipartisan agreement on a separate bill to confront our ongoing car theft crisis, most of our solutions — GPS monitoring for defendants awaiting trial, automatic transfer to the adult docket, and greater coordination with DCF — have still not found support on the other side of the aisle,” Rep. McGorty said. “With less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, we should be doubling our efforts to protect the victims of these heinous crimes, not working to chip away at the criminal justice system that keeps them safe.”
The original version of the bill, which would still automatically erase convictions for possession of child pornography, violent assault and other offenses, passed the Senate 23-12 the previous night with all Senate Democrats voting in favor.
The Shelton Republicans point out the potential for violent felons to obtain work with children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations under the bill’s provisions.
They argue that the state of Connecticut already provides a variety of pre-trial diversion programs to help first-time offenders keep low-level convictions off their records, while those already convicted of a criminal offense can elect to receive an erasure by petitioning the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Under Senate Bill 1019, however, many crimes would be automatically erased without the victims even having an opportunity to testify against the motion.
Following the House’s approval in concurrence with the Senate, the bill heads to the Governor’s desk.