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State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Sen. Needleman Supports Democratic Criminal Justice, Voting Rights Agenda

HARTFORD, CT—Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) gave his support to the Senate Democrats’ announcement of “A Just Connecticut,” the first of four legislative agendas for the 2019 legislative session. The series of bills outline the policy proposals from Senate Democrats to reform the state’s criminal justice system, strengthen gun safety protections, and expand voting rights.

The legislative proposals in the “A Just Connecticut” agenda introduced by Sen. Needleman include:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

“We need to do our best when it comes to protecting everyone in Connecticut, from our young to our threatened,” said Sen. Needleman. “Legislation to give children of immigrants equal representation, and ensuring restraining orders remain active as their subjects possibly enter and exit custody, will give many individuals added protection and security against adversity.”

Senate Bill 654: An Act Concerning A Right to Counsel for Immigrant Children
To ensure children of immigrants are represented in issues regarding their well-being.

  • In FY 2018, there were 971 filings initiated in Connecticut for juvenile deportation proceedings. Largest represented countries of origin were Guatemala (309), Honduras (152), and Brazil (152). 716 of those individuals, or 78 percent, were not represented by counsel.
  • California; Washington; and Denver, Colorado have allocated funding for legal representation of immigrants.
  • New Jersey recently allocated $2.1 million for legal representation of immigrants.
  • The bill would establish a new program to provide legal counsel to undocumented minors. Roughly $800,000 a year would be needed.

Senate Bill 689: An Act Concerning Tolling Temporary Restraining Orders (SB 689)
To continue a temporary restraining order after the person alleged to be a threat is released from jail or custody.

  • It is possible that a restraining order is issued when the alleged abuser is in jail, or that the alleged abuser is arrested and in jail during the days prior to the hearing. If there is no hearing, which can be complicated by the alleged abuser’s arrest, then the restraining order can expire.
  • The bill would toll (delay) the time between issuing the restraining order and the hearing by one day for each day that the alleged abuser is in custody of law enforcement.

“Allowing for an individual who has changed their ways to be given the opportunity to break free of their past holding them down is a powerful way we can fight back against disenfranchisement,” said Sen. Needleman. “All too often, individuals with nonviolent criminal records have those records thrown in their faces, sometimes years or even decades after they served their sentences and remained crime-free since. This represents a new path forward for those individuals and for Connecticut as a whole.”

Senate Bill 691: An Act Concerning Expungement of Criminal Records
To create a system of expungement of criminal records for offenders that have remained crime-free for a significant period following the end of his or her sentence.

  • There is a strong correlation between housing and employment and the like hood that a convicted person will reoffend. The sad truth is that a person’s criminal record makes it unfairly more difficult to acquire housing and employment.
  • The bill would automatically expunge (destroy) or erase (seal and prohibit public access to) certain criminal records if an offender does not re-offend within a designated number of years from release

VOTING RIGHTS

“Voting rights and voting access are something that should be expanded and extended so everyone has the right to exercise their choice, no matter who or what they want to support,” said Sen. Needleman. “These bills would provide the public with more time and flexibility to schedule a trip to a polling booth into their busy schedules, assisting workers who may not be able to get out of work to cast a ballot and college students who might otherwise have to choose between class and voting.”

Senate Joint Resolution 14: A Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the State Constitution to Allow for Early Voting
To amend the Constitution of the State of Connecticut to allow for in person voting for a period prior to Election Day.

Senate Bill 266: An Act Concerning Ballot Access for Students on College and University Campuses To provide polling locations on college and university campuses for students to make it easier for students to vote.

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