September 26, 2017 1:45 pm

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ACLU of Rhode Island
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Five members of Governor Gina Raimondo’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group and six other groups active in criminal justice reform today issued a sharp response to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s recent attack on the passage of justice reinvestment legislation by the General Assembly.

In a letter sent today to the Governor, the eleven signatories commended the Governor for her “leadership on this important issue,” and called the Attorney General’s “diatribe” against the legislation “unseemly for its vitriol” and “hypocritical” since the approved bills contained a number of changes, opposed by the signers, that were made specifically at his behest in June. Among other things, Kilmartin had called the Working Group a “sham commission” and the legislation “a red herring for proponents to feel good about themselves.”

The group letter noted that criminal justice reform has been “sweeping the country in red and blue states alike” in recognition that current practices are “ineffective, counter-productive and financially wasteful.” The letter pointed out that the Rhode Island legislation included provisions that were pushed by the Attorney General and opposed by the signers, but that the final package was “the product of a great deal of compromise” and an “important first step” in criminal justice reform. The letter added:

“If the Attorney General is truly interested in ‘moving forward with actual criminal justice reform,’ he should be welcoming this package . . . rather than condemning it for seeking to accomplish its purpose.”

The letter concluded by indicating that the groups looked forward to continue to work with the Governor to promote additional criminal justice reform. Those signing the letter to the Governor included the executive director of the RI Commission for Human Rights, the Mental Health Advocate, the Public Defender, the president of the NAACP – Providence Branch, and the executive minister of the R.I. State Council of Churches.

A copy of the letter with all the signatories can be found here:

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