Posted on April 28, 2023
(HARTFORD) — On Thursday morning, members of the General Assembly convened for a scheduled session, tasked with voting on the controversial reappointment of Carleton J. Giles to become a member of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles. State Representative Jason Perillo (R-113) joined the House Republican caucus in standing alongside families of crime victims who have raised serious concerns about Giles’ reappointment.
Giles, a former Norwalk police officer, was previously chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles before being removed by Governor Lamont in after the state experienced an exponential increase in sentence commutations last year. The rise in commuted, or reduced, sentences, have since permitted more violent criminals to re-enter society, especially under the authority of Giles in 2022. House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86), Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90), and others joined Perillo in rejecting the nomination.
“It was almost a year ago that James McGrath, a high school student from Shelton, was tragically killed,” said Perillo. “Increased commutations allows dangerous criminals to re-enter society, endangering victims, families, and our community. During National Victims’ Rights Week, we must remember James’ life as we vote to appoint members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles today, upholding his rights and prioritizing the protection of his family.”
Kevin McGrath, James’ father, also expressed his concerns with reappointing Giles at a press conference prior to the start of session. “It will be a year, this May, since I lost my son, Jimmy,” said McGrath. “My son was wrongly sentenced to death and now my family and I are sentenced to living our lives without him. As you vote today, I urge you to assure that violent criminals serve the entirety of their sentences as it provides the closure and safety families deserve in these tragic situations.”
The state House of Representatives ultimately approved Giles’ nomination by a slim 79 to 67 vote. Republicans were joined by 15 Democrats in opposition of the nomination after several House members reminded the General Assembly that 71 inmates had their sentences reduced last year, 44 of them convicted murderers.
“I am holding out hope for the newly appointed chairwoman, Jennifer Zaccagnini, to hear the bipartisan call to, above all, protect victims’ rights,” added Perillo. “The vote today simply determines which legislators openly support victims’ rights and which legislators refuse to take a stand. I hope that take constituents take time to learn about this important issue and especially remember the decision made today.”
For more information about this, or any state issue, contact Jason.Perillo@housegop.ct.gov or at 860-240-8700 with your questions, ideas, and concerns.