New Statewide Poll Shows Majority of Connecticut Voters Support Strong Clean Slate Proposals

February 19, 2020 10:00 am

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HARTFORD, Conn.The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut’s campaign for Smart Justice released new public opinion polling today that shows support across the political and ideological spectrums for strong Clean Slate proposals.

The research, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group between January 30 and February 5, included 510 telephone and online interviews with registered Connecticut voters across the state who indicated they were likely to vote in the 2020 gubernatorial election. Thirty-six percent of participants identified as moderate, 32 percent as conservative, and 30 percent as liberal. Respondents were asked about their views on the size of Connecticut’s prison system, the purpose of the criminal justice system, treatment of people returning to society after incarceration, and their views on Clean Slate policy proposals.

Key findings include:

  • 85 percent of Connecticut voters, including 91 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Independents, and 72 percent of Republicans, say that people who have been convicted of a crime should have a fair shot at getting their lives on track without having their prison sentence held against them.
  • When informed that Connecticut does not have a Clean Slate law, 64 percent of Connecticut voters, including 78 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 50 percent of Republicans, said it was important for the legislature to pass a Clean Slate law that is backed by anti-discrimination protections for people with a criminal history.
  • 60 percent of Connecticut voters, including 70 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of Independents, and 56 percent of Republicans, support laws that allow people to have their criminal records automatically erased after five years without re-offense.
  • 74 percent of Connecticut voters agree that when someone who was imprisoned has earned their chance to reenter society, we should be setting them up for success, no matter what crime they were arrested for or convicted of.
  • Connecticut voters reject a “tough on crime” approach. 84 percent of Connecticut voters, including 64 percent of Republicans, agree that the main purpose of prison should be to rehabilitate people to successfully reenter society.

Donald Rivers, ACLU of Connecticut Smart Justice leader, said: “Everyone living with a criminal record should have the chance to succeed and support ourselves and our families. Erasing people’s records and preventing people from being discriminated against based on their criminal histories are the right things to do, the smart things to do, and, according to Connecticut voters, the popular things to do. This poll shows that the majority of Connecticut voters stand with Smart Justice in our call for strong, complete Clean Slate proposals. Every elected official should pay attention to the fact that when Smart Justice speaks about Clean Slate, we are speaking from our direct experience and with the support of Connecticut voters. We call on the legislature to create a safer, stronger Connecticut by adopting a strong Clean Slate law that fulfills the promise of a fresh start for all people living with a criminal record.”

Claudine Fox, ACLU of Connecticut campaign manager, said: “Connecticut voters clearly support policies to help people who are reentering society to get back on their feet, including Clean Slate proposals that are backed by provisions to stop discrimination against people with a criminal history. Smart Justice believes Clean Slate should be for everyone who was convicted of a crime and should include ways to hold people accountable if they discriminate against someone based on their criminal history. The majority of Connecticut voters stand with us in our call for Clean Slate proposals that automatically erase people’s records and prevent discrimination against formerly incarcerated people.”

For the topline poll memo:

For the poll results:

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The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system.