An Open Letter to Connecticut State Senator Len Fasano and State Senate Republicans

05/18/2015 05:10 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2016

Dear Senator Fasano,

In recent days, much has been made of House Republican Leader Themis Klarides' reaction to Governor Malloy's statement that a law that adversely impacts people and communities of color is racist in its outcome. And, to be clear, the governor was right. Regardless of intent, policies that negatively affect minority communities are inherently racist in outcome.

But, of late, missing from the conversation on making our communities fairer and safer has been the voice of Senate Republicans.

Just months ago, you announced the Republican "urban agenda," an attempt to restore Republicans' fractured image in our cities. And you even expressed measured support for the governor's Second Chance Society initiatives. It seemed to be a step in the right direction. But why aren't you holding press conferences now to discuss real policies and decisions that can level the playing field for residents of our cities? Your urban agenda appears to have waned in the face of misleading attacks from members of the Republican minority in the House.

The opposition to this legislation from House Republicans is fueled by a fear that supporting this legislation will fuel backlash against GOP legislators from the conservative base of the Republican Party. And based on the silence of the past several days, I fear that this opposition has spread to Senate Republicans.

But if that is the case, there is political cover. On the national level, criminal justice reform is an issue that has gained bipartisan support, including from national Republicans like Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul.

Are Connecticut's legislative Republicans really that far to the right of some of the nation's most conservative Republicans on the issue of criminal justice?

As I believe you know, the truth is that Second Chance Society legislation would not just help nonviolent offenders -- many of whom made a mistake as a very young person -- escape from a lifetime of punishment but improve our communities and continue to make our state safer.

As the architect of the Republican "urban agenda," we hope you will weigh in on an issue that undoubtedly affects our cities and can help make Connecticut a Second Chance Society.

In the words of Rick Perry, "for some people, a chance is all they really need."


Nick Balletto
Chair, Connecticut Democratic Party