HARTFORD – The Connecticut House of Representatives today voted to pass a bill to begin holding State’s Attorneys accountable to data-driven, regular, independent reviews of the patterns and practices of their Judicial Districts. The legislation now awaits action by Governor Lamont.
The following is a reaction from ACLU of Connecticut campaign manager Gus Marks-Hamilton:
“This bill is a critical step toward transparency and accountability for public officials who hold people’s lives in their hands, and who have the power to make mass incarceration and systemic racism better or worse. As gatekeepers to the criminal legal system, State’s Attorneys have the ability to interrupt racism and bigotry, and it’s imperative that our state hold them accountable to doing so. Prosecutorial accountability is about making sure that State’s Attorneys don’t treat someone differently just because of their race, zip code, or how much money they have. Smart Justice has been fighting for years for this legislation, and today’s vote is the culmination of legislators listening to justice-impacted people. We urge Governor Lamont to sign this bill into law swiftly, and if it becomes law, we will be there to monitor each step of its implementation.”
S.B. 1070, An Act Concerning Prosecutorial Accountability, would:
- establish annual opportunities for public comment and testimony before the Criminal Justice Commission regarding State’s Attorneys’ patterns and practices;
- require each State's Attorney to appear before the Criminal Justice Commission annually for testimony and comment on data collected by the state’s prosecutorial transparency law, including information regarding arrests, arraignments, continuances, diversionary programs, prosecutors' communication with victims, outcomes of cases, nonjudicial sanctions, plea agreements, trial cases, court fines and fees, and restitution. The bill also requires testimony and comment regarding data about the race, sex, ethnicity, age, and geographies of defendants;
- ensure this data was anonymized to protect the privacy of people involved in a criminal legal case.
Early data collected through Connecticut’s existing prosecutorial transparency law shows there is not a single geographical area (GA) court in the state without a racial disparity in conviction rates. In every GA court, Black people are convicted more often than white people.