Connecticut should give ex-cons a better break

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One of the biggest issues that we have in Hartford is violence and crime. Safety and security are the essence of a successful government and society. Government that cannot guarantee its citizens safety and security that they deserve is a failed government indeed.

Imagine a pyramid of elements with different levels of how to achieve prosperity. The first and bottom line is safety and security. It is the foundation of that pyramid, thus, if this foundation is deficient or even nonexistent, then it doesn’t matter what one piles up on top of that pyramid since it’s all going to collapse eventually.

There are many avenues to combat crime and establish the safety and security in our city, but let me focus on just one part.

Many ex-convicts who get out of prison end up in Hartford on our streets. According to a Pew Center on the States study, almost half of ex-cons soon end up back in jail for committing crime because it is sometimes their only way to pay their bills.

I work as a chaplain at a prison in Connecticut and many convicts, including military veterans, approach and complain to me that they have no future outside of those walls since a lot of them went to prison while they were young, didn’t have education and worst of all, have a criminal record that will follow them around.

I believe that a person who committed a non-violent crime and served a punishment for it should be given a second chance. Why do we want to keep punishing that person sometimes for the rest of his/her life? Not only is it costly to the taxpayers, but it is also immoral and unjust.

We have to pass a legislation banning private employers from inquiring about criminal history on the initial job application. It will be hard to do due to the powerful lobbying, but it is possible. Everything is possible.

Iskandar Alex Atajanow is a U.S. Army veteran who lives in Hartford.

What do you think?

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