Let My People Vote Testimony | Sealing Criminal Records (SB22-099)
My name is Victoria Dadet, and I’m a Let My People Vote Coordinator for Soul 2 Soul Sisters where we organize for Black Women’s healing, joy, and liberation here in Denver. I’m submitting this testimony on behalf of our Let My People Vote program to urge you to support Senate Bill 99 and support Black communities that have been impacted by the criminal legal system.
At Let My People Vote, we hold reproductive justice at the core of our work. Reproductive justice teaches us that every community deserves to be able to live and raise families in a safe and healthy environment. However, Black families are at a higher risk of being traumatized by the criminal legal system due to racist policies targeted at low-income, Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that lead to our people being over-criminalized and over-surveilled. These policies disproportionately send Black people into the criminal legal system and create unnecessary barriers that make it harder for individuals to participate in society after they are released. Having a criminal record can make it impossible for someone to get housing, get a job, and do other things that would support their ability to live independently. The economic obstacles created for formerly incarcerated people combined with the consistent targeted aggression from police towards Black communities are a direct result of this country’s legacy of slavery, slave catchers, and constant attempts to prevent Black people from building safe communities for us to exercise our autonomy and agency.
This is why we need SB99 to support Black communities in our state. Being able to seal a criminal record can make it possible for a household to gain long-term employment, education, affordable housing, and more. Colorado has made great strides by allowing for the automatic sealing of certain records, and we need this legislation to expand the same automatic process to the remaining eligible records, including all non-convictions, many misdemeanors, and lower-level felonies. SB99 would make it easier for many Black families who have been impacted by the criminal legal system to access the things they need in order to control their futures. We urge you to vote yes on SB99. Thank you for your time.