Reflecting a campaign trail promise that he made to the ACLU of Connecticut’s Smart Justice campaign, Governor Ned Lamont has nominated an expert committed to criminal justice reform, who has been directly impacted by the justice system, to serve on the state’s Criminal Justice Commission, the entity that selects prosecutors in the state. Today, Lamont named Reginald Dwayne Betts, a nationally-acclaimed memoirist, poet, attorney, Yale Law School graduate, and expert in the justice system, to serve on the Commission.
“I’ve long believed decreasing our incarceration rates means taking the duty and responsibilities of prosecutors seriously. Being able to bring my experience and skills to the commission would be an honor. Having seen every aspect of the system, I’m certain I can make a positive contribution,” said Betts.
“In addition to being gatekeepers to the criminal justice system, prosecutors are public officials who should be accountable to the public. The addition of a justice-impacted expert to the Criminal Justice Commission is a landmark moment for Connecticut and brings a critical and previously excluded perspective to the consequential process of interviewing and appointing Connecticut’s prosecutors. The people closest to the problems of mass incarceration are closest to the solutions, yet often furthest from the power. In this case, Connecticut is taking a step to place the power to change its criminal justice system where it belongs, in the hands of justice-impacted experts. We thank Governor Lamont for listening to justice-impacted leaders by making this historic nomination to the Criminal Justice Commission. Dwayne Betts will be able to bring his considerable experience in law and legal studies to the process of interviewing and appointing Connecticut’s prosecutors," said Gus Marks-Hamilton, Smart Justice field organizer for the ACLU of Connecticut.
Connecticut’s prosecutors, known as “state’s attorneys,” are chosen by a commission rather than directly elected by voters. That commission, known as the Criminal Justice Commission, appoints the Chief State’s Attorney, Deputy Chief State's Attorneys, and Deputy Assistant State's Attorneys.