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New Law Requires Pardons Not be Denied Without Written Explanation

June 4, 2021 General

The Pardon Process

A frustrating part of the expungement pardon process is waiting for a decision from the Board of Pardons and Paroles.  Worse still is getting a letter that only says the pardon is denied and that you can reapply in a year.  A lot of time and effort goes into a pardon application.  The best chance of receiving a pardon is often the first application.  The application is long and time-consuming.  A lot of strategy decisions go into your pardon application, including who to use as a reference and what other information and documentation to provide to the Board.  A lot of thought and planning should go into creating the applicant’s narrative.  An application should be about some combination of mitigation, remorse, insight, and rehabilitation. 

Public Act 21-32

A new law recently passed by the legislature provides some assurance that the members of the Board will recognize the hardships that come with a criminal conviction and provide the information to applicants if they are being denied a pardon.  Public Act 21-32 made changes to Connecticut General Statutes Section 54-124a effective July 1, 2021.  

The first change requires members of the Board undertake annual training to learn about the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Thus, Board members must learn about the challenges that a person with a criminal record faces, such as in applying for housing or employment. 

The second change is that the Board cannot deny an application without providing the applicant with a written statement of what factors the Board considered in determining the person’s qualification for a pardon.  That statement also must include which of those factors were not satisfied.  This is to say, the Board cannot summarily deny applications without explanation.

Helping with Pardons

The Pardon application process can be challenging.  If you are considering an expungement pardon and would like assistance, call or email Attorney Guarnieri.