Legislation Leaves Victims Vulnerable to Repeat Offenders
HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Woodbridge, Orange, Derby) and State Representative Rosa C. Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck) expressed their disappointment with the Judiciary Committee’s joint favorable report on S.B. 691, An Act Concerning Erasure of Criminal Records. Rep. Rebimbas, the committee’s Ranking Member, voted against the proposal citing major concerns with the bill’s language and the weak stance it takes on criminal activity.
“I am against SB 691. This bill will remove a criminal’s misdemeanor history of things like; assault in the third degree of the elderly, the blind, disabled, pregnant, or an individual with an intellectual disability. This bill will remove the criminal history of stalking in the second degree and strangulation or suffocation in the third degree, and first offense drunk driving convictions will be erased. SB 691 does not protect the citizens of Connecticut; it caters to the interest of criminals. Rushing a bill through without taking into account the repercussions of such potential legislation just to appease various voters at the expense of survivors does a disservice to all who live in and visit Connecticut. The erasure of these crimes gives the criminal a clean slate, yet the survivors and victims will continue to live with the lasting emotional effects,” said Rep. Themis Klarides.
“I will not support any legislation making Connecticut weak on crime,” Rep. Rebimbas said. “This bill is sending the wrong message to people who willfully break the law. Several Republican members of the Judiciary Committee had questions about this legislation that the committee’s Democratic leadership simply could not answer. At a minimum, individuals seeking to erase their records should have to make the request in person and certify under oath that they have not been rearrested, reconvicted, and do not have a pending case against them nor are they subject to an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Rep. Rebimbas continued, “It is nearly impossible for anyone to conduct a proper search to see if a person has been convicted in another state or country. Too many individuals could fly under the radar. Also worth noting, we do have a system in place to expunge someone’s record, and if people find this process inefficient, we should revisit it and make the appropriation changes. I’m also deeply troubled by the lack of notification given to the victims. Surely they’d like to weigh in on this conversation. Should this bill become law, the ‘Land of Steady Habits’ will soon become the ‘Land of Unlimited Second Chances.’”
“Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is strongly opposed to Senate Bill 691 because of its potential to make our roadways more dangerous. The bill appears to have the effect of shortening lookback periods when determining subsequent drunk driving offenses, allowing repeat drunk drivers back behind the wheel earlier than currently prescribed and without the longer Ignition Interlock requirement that keeps the rest of us safe. And, those repeat drunk drivers include bus drivers and drivers of other Student Transportation Vehicles,” said Bob Garguilo, State Executive Director, MADD CT.
Were S.B. 691 to become law, individuals convicted of Class A, B and C misdemeanors would have their records erased after three years, with the exception of cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence. Among the individuals eligible for erasure are those convicted of driving under the influence. Often in Connecticut, DUI offenders are not convicted until their second arrest with a lookback period of ten years. The new law would reduce that lookback period to three years allowing for multiple second chances within a relatively short period of time. Other crimes such as stalking would also fall into this category leaving members of the public vulnerable to potentially dangerous individuals capable of committing more heinous acts. Both Leader Klarides and Rep. Rebimbas agree this bill is just another example of the Democratic majority rushing bills through the legislature without considering the broader implications of these proposals.