HARTFORD – The Criminal Justice Commission today chose Patrick Griffin to become Connecticut’s next Chief State’s Attorney, filling the role vacated by Richard Colangelo following an investigation into his decision to hire a state budget official’s daughter while Colangelo was lobbying that official for raises for himself and other State’s Attorneys.
Prior to today’s Criminal Justice Commission appointment, the ACLU of Connecticut surveyed both finalists for the role regarding their views on creating accountability systems for State’s Attorneys, decreasing incarceration, combatting racism in the criminal legal system, and police accountability.
Gus Marks-Hamilton, ACLU of Connecticut campaign manager, had the following reaction:
“The Chief State’s Attorney inherits a State’s Attorney system that has been allowed to “regulate” itself for decades, enabling corruption and scandal and feeding racial and geographic disparities in how people are treated in the criminal legal system. It is up to the incoming Chief State’s Attorney to prove whether they will embrace meaningful external accountability systems, new lobbying priorities, and new policies for all State’s Attorneys, or whether they will choose to double down on the harmful status quo. Prosecutorial power remains largely unchecked and unregulated, and it fuels the incarceration of Black and Brown people. Through their actions, the new Chief State’s Attorney could commit the Division of Criminal Justice to becoming an agency that values justice and healing over convictions, people over prisons, and safe and healthy communities over policing. Time will tell whether Patrick Griffin will truly serve the people of Connecticut by embracing those tasks.”
Data collected by the state under Connecticut’s prosecutorial transparency law, advocated for by the ACLU of Connecticut Smart Justice campaign, shows that under the current State’s Attorney system:
- Because of systemic racism, in every geographic area (GA) court in Connecticut, Black people are convicted more often than white people;
- People convicted of drug offenses are 2.4 times more likely to get prison sentences in some parts of the state than in others.
The Criminal Justice Commission interviewed two finalists for the Chief State’s Attorney position: Patrick Griffin and Sharmese Walcott. Both are currently employed as State’s Attorneys in Connecticut.
For the ACLU-CT survey responses from both finalists: https://www.acluct.org/en/news/chief-states-attorney-finalists-respond-smart-justice-survey