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PACKED HOUSE AT MAYOR BRONIN’S RE-ENTRY FORUM, “LIFE AFTER LOCKUP: STORIES OF SUCCESS”

PACKED HOUSE AT MAYOR BRONIN’S RE-ENTRY FORUM, “LIFE AFTER LOCKUP: STORIES OF SUCCESS”
“As we recognize the first-ever National Reentry Week, it¹s important to bring returning citizens, community organizations, and public officials together to hear directly from those who are facing and overcoming the obstacles posed by a criminal record.” – Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin
 
Hartford, Conn. (April 29, 2016) – More than one-hundred people attended Mayor Bronin’s re-entry forum, “Life After Lockup: Stories of Success,” held during the U.S. Department of Justice’s first-ever National Reentry Week. The event took place on Thursday evening at the Hartford Public Library.
 
Prior to a panel discussion, several local and state officials – including: Mayor Bronin, City Council President Thomas J. Clarke II, City Councilman James Sanchez, and State Department of Correction¹s Commissioner Scott Semple – spoke about the importance of strengthening support for returning citizens and also highlighted Connecticut’s Second Chance Society legislative agenda.
 
“We have thousands of residents in our city for whom a past criminal record represents a seemingly insurmountable barrier to opportunity and employment,” said Mayor Bronin. “It’s going to take a strong partnership to become a society where punishment isn’t permanent and where anyone who wants to rebuild their life as a positive, productive member of our community has a real chance to do it. As we recognize the first-ever National Reentry Week, it’s important to bring returning citizens, community organizations, and public officials together to hear directly from those who are facing and overcoming the obstacles posed by a criminal record.”
 
In addition, Mayor Bronin noted that a critical part of the Second Chance Society movement must be to encourage private employers to look beyond a job applicant’s past mistakes. Holding up a Starbucks coffee cup at the podium, Bronin noted that the coffee company is one of many businesses, locally and nationally, that has committed to provide employment opportunities for returning citizens. He also highlighted local businesses such as Billings Forge Community Works and Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue as examples of second chance employers.
 
“I talk often with businesses who have made a conscious decision to give individuals a chance despite a criminal record, and time and again I hear that those individuals are some of the best, most loyal, most dedicated employees the employer has, because they know how hard it was to get that chance,” said Mayor Bronin. “We need to continue to encourage small, medium, and large businesses to take the fair employment pledge and recognize that a criminal record shouldn’t be a permanent barrier to employment.”

The panel consisted of five newly returning citizens working with Hartford based reentry programs: Tracy Bernard, 42; Markus Keaton, 27; Bruce Bressler, 35; Diego Lopez, 36; and Edward Andrews, 50.

• Click here for photos from the event: http://bit.ly/1QDXiqw.

For more on last night’s forum, click here for coverage from the Hartford Courant: http://cour.at/1VWRlxo.

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