February 26, 2019

Nonprofit Which Offers Re-Entry Services to Ex-Offenders Supports Bradley’s Co-Introduced Bill

photo of Senator Bradley.

State Senator Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport) met with Heart for Hearts Inc. President Rhoda Huxstable to discuss legislation which will create a system of expungement of criminal records for ex-offender who have not offended for a significant period of time following their sentence. (February 22, 2019)

BRIDGEPORT, CT—Last week, State Senator Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport) met with Heart for Hearts Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals, to talk about criminal justice reform. Sen. Bradley commended Heart for Hearts Inc., for helping to build the foundation for people to have a second chance.

“Heart for Hearts Inc., is providing much-needed services to truly assist ex-offenders’ reform efforts,” said Sen. Bradley. “The work they do is a testament to the positive impact a community can have when it comes together to deal with important issues and help one another.”

Sen. Bradley has co-introduced legislation to expunge the records of non-violent offenders who have not offended for a certain period of time. If passed, Senate Bill No. 691, “AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS,” will create a system of expungement of criminal records for offenders who have remained offense free for a significant period. The Judiciary Committee voted to develop formal language for this legislation.

“When an individual has paid their debt to society, and remained clean for a significant period of time, they should not be repeatedly punished by the system,” said Sen. Bradley. “The justice system works best when it not only punishes unlawful behavior, but also provides and celebrates reform, to ensure the unlawful behavior will not be repeated.”

The re-entry program at Heart for Hearts Inc., aims to increase ex-offender and family stability while promoting healthy, productive lifestyles. They provide assistance in resume writing, housing, transportation, financial literacy, and parenting/family support, according to their website. The president of Heart for Hearts Inc., Rhoda Huxstable said she and her staff support Sen. Bradley’s legislation.

“It’s important to pass this legislation so people can find employment in areas they normally wouldn’t,” said Huxstable.

Heart for Hearts Inc., board member and volunteer Latoya Still said some ex-offenders lacked a foundation from which to build a successful, lawful life. She said they are much more than their past mistakes.

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” said Still. “People make mistakes and I feel that just because you made a mistake in your past, it does not mean you’re unable to grow from that mistake.”

Ramon Coriano is a mentor at Heart for Hearts and an ex-offender. He said he understands the hardships which come with growing up without a solid foundation at home and the struggles ex-offenders face when they come home. He said if an ex-offender is on the right track, and has not offended; expunging their record will mean more job opportunities increasing the odds they will not offend again.

“People are trying to change their lives,” said Coriano. “We should give them the opportunity to come back to society and contribute. We should not build a block that keeps them from getting a job.”