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Serving from 2003 to 2010, Patrick C. Lynch, 45, was the 72nd person to hold the office of Rhode Island Attorney General since its inception in 1650. A former State prosecutor, he made reducing juvenile crime the centerpiece of his administration, believing that the career criminals of tomorrow start off as the youth offenders of today.
Lynch has had a strong voice in the shaping of legislation aimed at toughening the state’s criminal justice system, advancing the rights of victims, and affording additional protections to consumers.
Lynch took the lead in defeating efforts to site an LNG facility in Providence and has joined with anti-LNG forces in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts, where another facility – also requiring marine transport of LNG through Rhode Island waters and along its coastal communities – has been proposed. Stating that safety and security measures are inadequate to protect the public, the infrastructure, and the environment, he continues to advocate for the sovereign rights of states against the unwanted introduction of LNG terminals.
In response to an increase in the number of crimes committed against senior citizens in Rhode Island, which has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of the elderly, Lynch established, in 2005, a specialized Elder Abuse Unit within the Department of Attorney General. The Unit’s primary functions are investigating reports of alleged exploitation of seniors and prosecuting crimes involving elderly victims of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Committed to championing the civil liberties of all Rhode Islanders, Lynch created, with legislative approval, the Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Advocate in 2005. This specialized unit empowers the Attorney General to be more proactive in protecting the rights of Rhode Islanders from civil rights violations involving race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and age.
As Attorney General, Lynch visited at least a school a week – making hundreds of such visits since first taking office in January 2003 – to speak to children about making good choices in their lives. “Talking to kids in their classrooms is much better than prosecuting them in our courtrooms,” he tells parent and teacher groups. He is also an unwavering advocate for the Rhode Island Judiciary’s anti-truancy and anti-drug initiatives, the Truancy and Drug Courts. In 2004, the New England Association of Drug Court Professionals presented him with its President’s Award for his “support of drug courts and their graduates.”
Lynch’s leadership on important legal and social issues has earned him the respect of his peers throughout the nation. It was while hosting the National Association of Attorneys General’s (NAAG) 2008 Summer Meeting in Rhode Island that Lynch was inducted as President of NAAG. His election marked the first time a Rhode Island Attorney General was chosen to serve in NAAG’s top leadership position. In selecting The Year of the Child as his presidential initiative, Attorney General Lynch built on his work of furthering protections for youth, including increasing safeguards in the area of technology such as those attained by recent agreements with attorneys general and social networking sites, as well as the nation’s cable operators.
A 1987 graduate of Brown University, Attorney General Lynch earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School. As a Special Assistant Attorney General from 1994 to 1999, he prosecuted cases at every level of Rhode Island’s criminal justice system and led the State’s prosecution of gang-related offenses. Lynch worked for one of Rhode Island’s top law firms until the 2002 election, which capped his first campaign for public office.