Connecticut prosecutors adopt plan to ‘move justice forward’ with efficiency and fairness

After an 11-month independent review, the chief state’s attorney unveiled a ‘blueprint’ with 10 goals and action steps adopted by all 13 criminal justice districts.

ROCKY HILL, Conn — Louis Mattei Jr. grew up in Waterbury and served 20 years at MacDougal Walker where other inmates were fighting convictions.

“It would take 20 years to overturn a case—15-20 years,” Mattei Jr. said.

But his involvement with the Division of Criminal Justice started at age 16 when he said there were no diversionary programs to keep him out of the system. 

Now, he’s one of 89 voices interviewed over an 11-month span that helped researchers with the Center for Justice Innovation draft a strategic plan with 10 goals and action steps, adopted by all Connecticut prosecutors. 

The 10 goals range from expanding diversion options to increasing staff diversity and creating community engagement directors at all offices as well as upgrading technology and transparency. 

The report comes more than a year after the state’s top prosecutor retired amid an ethics probe. All 13 of Connecticut’s State’s Attorneys are adopting a new blueprint they said will make the state’s criminal justice process fairer and more equitable. 

It’s the first time the Division as a whole has conducted an independent review and outlined goals and steps, including hiring initiatives and data reporting, which it says is already being implemented.

Theron Pride, of the Center for Justice Innovation, which drafted the report said, “For real transformative change to happen we have to be able to slow down and reflect.”

The report was funded by a grant from the Herbert and Nell Singer Foundation and comes more than a year after the resignation of the former Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo amid an independent probe after he hired the daughter of a former state budget director. 

Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin said, “It covers everything from charging decisions on the front end to sentencing recommendations on the back end.”

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“This was not imposed upon them in any way. It was their effort to see what we’re doing and how we can improve,” said Jay Sandak of the Herbert and Nell Singer Foundation. 

The report was drafted with guidance from court staff, public defenders, advocates, and a panel of stakeholders including West Hartford Police Chief Vernon Riddick. 

“It’s not just words. It’s tangible action,” said Riddick.

“Achieving these goals is going to take a period of time. Some will be done quickly. Some are already done. And some are more long-term and are going to take more of an effort,” said Deputy Chief State’s Attorney John Russotto.

Read the executive summary here.  

Samaia Hernandez is a reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at shernandez@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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