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Low-level criminal records are supposed to be expunged in the new year, but delays are expected

Cannabis plants being grown in Nevada following that state's legalization in 2017.
Ethan Miller
Getty Images
Cannabis plants being grown in Nevada following that state's legalization in 2017.

Gov. Ned Lamont says a program to clear the criminal records of people convicted of low-level cannabis possession will be implemented early next year. But, he says, there’s a delay in a wider rollout that would clean up the records of people convicted of other crimes.

“Those marijuana-related convictions — we’re going to get that Clean Slate done [in the] very first part of next year,” Lamont said. “There are also some low-level felonies that the legislature implemented — they may take a little bit longer to make sure we get that right.”

The Clean Slate law takes effect in 2023, and it will almost immediately clear the roughly 44,000 cases of people convicted of low-level cannabis possession. But a mix of IT issues and legal concerns is slowing down the process for other felonies. Advocates and lawmakers are pushing the state to move quickly. State Sen. Gary Winfield says the delay will be frustrating for those who were expecting movement come Jan. 1.

“We are speaking to the governor of the state and his staff,” Winfield said. “And, I will assure you — and I would not do this, if you know me — that there is real work going on, and this is not just a delay because people don’t want to do this work. This delay is legitimate.”

The state says that residents who have had their records erased can tell employers, landlords and schools that the conviction never occurred. Winfield says that’s exceptionally important.

“I live around some folks who have been some of the most stand-up people in the community, but maybe 20, 30 years ago they did something and somebody got a piece of paper and found out about that thing and think they know who that person is,” Winfield said. “And what I can tell you is that piece of paper does not reflect who that person is now, it doesn’t reflect who they were 10 years ago. And you can’t see it. And so people think they are doing the right thing by not giving them housing, by not giving them a job, by not giving them a chance. But they’re doing exactly the wrong thing.”

The legislature may take the issue up next year.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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