The Rhode Island Senate today approved legislation that will require individuals convicted of first- or second-degree murder to serve as 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, 2014-S 2029, will apply the 50 percent sentence requirement to individuals convicted of first- or second-degree murder who have not been sentenced to life in prison.
“Individuals who commit first- and second-degree murder should be expected to serve at least a majority of their sentences and really, I think, they should be serving their full sentences for such a heinous crime,” said Senator Raptakis. “At the very least, they should serve no less than half of their term, which has been the case in some instances.”
"How can we talk about being tough on crime when murderers know they will be getting out of prison after serving only a relatively short amount of time, and much less than the sentence they receive,” he said.
The Raptakis legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Co-sponsors include Sen. Frank Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston), Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown).
An identical House bill, 2014-H 7101, by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), is currently before the House Committee on Judiciary.
Senator Raptakis has introduced two other bills this session dealing with murder and parole. One, 2014-S 2031, would establish a convicted murderer registry and notification process, much like the sexual offender registry. The other, 2014-S 2036, would require individuals convicted of first- or second-degree murder who are sentenced to life to serve at least 30 years of a sentence before being eligible for parole. Both bills are before the Senate Committee on Judiciary.