STATE HOUSE, Providence – The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-0 on Thursday to approve legislation that would require an individual convicted of first or second degree murder to serve at least 50 percent of a sentence prior to being eligible for parole.
Sponsored by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), the legislation, 2013-S 0361, would apply the 50 percent sentence rule to individuals convicted of first or second degree murder who have not been sentenced to life in prison.
Senator Raptakis said that although he has introduced similar legislation in the past, the urgency for enacting such a law has become even more apparent this year as a result of the recent parole granted to Alfred A. Brissette Jr., who was granted parole after serving only 15 years of a 35 year sentence for the murder of a Woonsocket woman in 1999.
“Individuals who commit first and second degree murder should be expected to serve at least the majority of their sentences, and really, I think, they should be required to complete their full sentences,” said Sen. Raptakis. “The case of Alfred Brissette is just one example of a convicted murderer being released prior to serving even half of their sentence. This is about truth in sentencing. The public expects that those convicted of such a violent and heinous crime as murder should do their time.”
Among the examples Sen. Raptakis cited at the hearing was that of Andrew Jett, who was freed on parole after serving less than half of a 40-year sentence imposed on is for the 1992 killing of his girlfriend, Stephanie Oxendine. Mr. Jett served only 18 years of his 40-year sentence, and in August of 2012 he was brought into custody on charges that he murdered his new girlfriend, Michelle Busby.
The legislation will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senators William A. Walaska (D – Dist. 30, Warwick), Frank S. Lombardi (D – Dist. 26, Cranston), Marc A. Cote (D – Dist. 24, North Smithfield, Woonsocket) and Catherine Cool Rumsey (D – Dist. 34, Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich).