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Connecticut faith leaders call for education funding, criminal justice reform

The Connecticut State Capitol building.
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
The Connecticut State Capitol building.

More than 100 Connecticut faith leaders gathered on Wednesday night to advocate for legislative action.

Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, or CONECT, want the Legislature to pass criminal justice reform and funding for education before the session ends.

Criminal justice

The “Clean Slate” law, which passed in 2021, was supposed to erase criminal records for people seven years after a misdemeanor conviction or 10 years after certain low class felonies, if they have not been convicted of other crimes.

More than 250,000 Connecticut residents are still waiting for their records to be cleared.

House Bill 6918 includes the technical changes needed to clear them. It’s been sent to the Senate.

State Representative Steven Stafstrom is the chair of the Judiciary Committee. He said the bill passed with bipartisan support in the House.

“Clean slate is a movement,” Stafstrom said. “It started with a few states. Connecticut was the fourth or the fifth state to enact Clean Slate. There are now 10, and soon to be more in this legislative session, and it is no longer just some left liberal democratic idea.”

Reverend Philippe E. C. Andal serves as the senior pastor of the Community Baptist Church in New Haven. He said CONECT supports second chances.

“As people of faith, we believe in the power of redemption,” Andal said. “And we believe that one mistake in somebody's past should not determine their future.”

Education

CONECT wants the legislature to fund school districts in minority communities with $357 million.

Education Committee chair Rep. Jeff Currey told leaders they need to advocate for permanent policy, not just funding.

“Funding must come with policy," Currey said. "That is the most important message that you can give right now to the governor, and to our respective leaders.”

Currey said education funding has received unprecedented support in the legislature this session.

“We have never seen support like this, for education, for education funding, the way that we've seen it from all of the caucuses,” Currey said. “Here at the state Capitol, I think everybody for once is pointing in the same direction.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.