HARTFORD, CT — Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz sent an email to her staff last week to let them know she decided over the summer that she “would not seek to be reappointed by Governor Malloy’s successor.”
Katz, a former Supreme Court Justice and public defender, was one of Malloy’s first nominations who survived his entire eight years despite calls for her resignation.
“I want to be very clear that my decision, which came after much soul searching, is not a reflection of how difficult or challenging the job is or out of concern that the new Governor would say ‘thanks, but no thanks,’” Katz wrote. “The job is indeed challenging and difficult. It has also been incredibly rewarding.”
She said she made the decision too because the department deserves a “honeymoon phase.”
Katz’s “honeymoon” ended in 2014 when she decided to open a controversial locked facility for at-risk girls.
Later that year Katz decided to transfer a transgender youth in DCF custody to an adult prison. In 2015, the Office of the Child Advocate released surveillance videos showing the misapplication of restraint and seclusion at two locked facilities in Middletown.
Katz said the job is “by far, the most difficult job in state government.”
Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple and Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Dora Schriro also announced their departures.
Outgoing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was complimentary of both Semple in Schriro.
“Semple has been a true partner and trusted advisor in our efforts to reimagine justice,” Malloy said. “During his tenure as Commissioner, the reforms enacted in the correctional system have been bold, courageous, and comprehensive. And as a result, Connecticut has not only emerged as a national leader in criminal justice reforms, but the people of our state are safer for it.”
As for Schriro, Malloy said “Under her expert watch, the department reduced backlogs at the State Crime Lab, instituted a Lethality Risk Assessment when responding to domestic violence calls, secured funding for body-worn cameras for the State Police, and equipped all Troopers with naloxone. She also oversaw the deployment of the state’s Next Generation 911 system and the state’s Emergency Management Accreditation process.”
During her nomination during Malloy’s second term, Schriro was questioned by Connecticut lawmakers about things that happened on her watch when she was New York City’s Commissioner of Correction.
Gov.-elect Ned Lamont has yet to announce any hiring. Having just formed a transition team, it’s unclear what commissioners he might ask to remain in their jobs. It’s tradition for every commissioner to submit their resignation and let the governor-elect decide.