A Journey from Prison to Politics


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By Linda Tishler Levinson

He admits he made a mistake and is working to live a better life. But Angel Morales says he has found the time served for that mistake does not always end at the prison gates.

Morales, 48, a lifelong Hartford resident, said he has worked since his release from prison in 2007 to improve himself and concentrate on his career and family. Today, he is clerk of the General Assembly’s General Law Committee.

“I’m a person who made a mistake years ago,” Morales said. After committing a non-violent offense, he served four years at the Carl Robinson Correctional Institute in Enfield. After his release, he successfully completed parole and probation.

“It was so difficult finding a job,” he said, despite having worked in the records departments of Updike Kelly & Spellacy and Pepe & Hazard, both law firms in downtown Hartford, prior to his incarceration.
“I think that’s a problem facing our society today,” Morales said.
A lot of former offenders want to change, but can’t get a job.
Morales eventually found his own job by volunteering for political campaigns and, eventually, doing some paid work for those campaigns.
He also concentrated on his family, caring for his late father, Alfonso Morales, before his death in 2010, and his mother, Inocencia Morales.
A graduate of Buckley High School in Hartford, Morales began studying for a criminal justice degree at Capital Community College and became an intern for state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, in 2011.
In 2012, he worked during the legislative session as a messenger for the Senate Democrats and applied to be a clerk for them, an appointed position he began in January.
In his work for the Senate Democrats, he clerks for the General Law Committee, working on bills involving the state Department of Consumer Protection and the Attorney General’s Office. He also works with the Public Safety Committee.
“As a clerk, you’re really the administrator,” he said.
Recently, he was named clerk of the quarter by the Senate Democrats.
“And this is my first quarter,” he said, clearly thrilled at the honor.
Morales also has ventured into politics as a candidate. In 2010, he ran for the 4th Assembly District of the state House of Representatives against then-incument Kelvin Roldan, losing in a close race that involved a recount.
“I took a chance at it,” he said.
But his political overtures came at a price, Morales said.
He was accused of making inappropriate advances to a mentally handicapped 19-year-old man, although no charges were ever filed. The matter was dropped after his attorney told police to drop the matter or make an arrest, Morales said.
“This was all just political attacks,” he said.
In addition to his own political ambitions, he has continued to work for Hartford’s Democratic Town Committee and served as its first Hispanic secretary.
He said he feels the Latino community is still under-represented in all levels of society.
“We need to get out of there,” he said.
Morales said he also works at a number of voter registration events, particularly reaching out to other ex-offenders.

“What I’m doing today, I want you to do tomorrow,” Morales said he tells them.

But he admits “change is an ongoing thing.

“I watch … what I do” and who I’m with, he said.

“I want to be the solution to our problems,” he said.