Photo of Senator Gomes.

State Senator

Ed Gomes

Representing Bridgeport & Stratford

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Reentry Reform Day: My Story

photo of Senator Gomes.

In 2017, Senator Ed Gomes visited "Inside the Box," a replica solitary confinement cell on display in the lobby of the State Capitol building.

A young man that I know of got into a little argument with his family at 17 years old. As a result, he ended up making himself homeless. Out there on the streets, he was hungry and chose to break into a restaurant. The restaurant had no money and little food. The young man ended up with a couple of tuna fish sandwiches-enough to curb his appetite.

But the young man wasn’t a master thief and was quickly caught and charged with a felony. He went to court without a lawyer and the judge sent him to Cheshire Correctional Institution for one to two years despite having no prior record. The judge stated that he was doing this because the accused was too young to be on his own.

After serving his sentence, the young man wanted to make his life whole. He wanted to do something good.

He tried to go into the Marines. They rejected him because of his felony. He tried to go into the Army. They rejected him because of his felony. He tried to find a steady job. They rejected him because of his felony. He floundered around for about five years working menial jobs where he could get them.

Then he got a draft notice to the Army which no longer cared about his felony. Given the opportunity to make right, the young man served honorably and, after being discharged, found employment and never made the same mistake again.

I’m proud to say that young man is me.

Ironically, it took the draft for society to give me, a felon, a chance. But not every young man out there today is as lucky as me.

That is why I have been fighting to pass bills like Fair Chance Hiring (House Bill 5583), Fair Treatment of Incarcerated Women (Senate Bill 13), Unlock the Vote (House Bill 5418), Immigration (HB 5544), and Opioids Treatment in Prisons (SB 172). Together, these policies will ensure that those trying to rebuild their lives after incarceration can become successful members of our society.

I will continue to fight for a system that is fair to all our communities so young people that made a mistake like me are not punished for the rest of their lives.

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