A bill that would require individuals convicted of murder in Rhode Island to serve at least half of their sentence before being eligible for Parole passed the Senate Judiciary committee Thursday night.
The bill, the "Brissette Bill" is named after Alfred Brissette. Brissette was convicted of killing a woman for the "thrill of the kill" however will be released from prison after serving less than 13-years.
Although Brissette has only served 13 years on a 35 year sentence, the Rhode Island Parole Board has agreed to Brissette's release sometime in March. Under the new legislation a murderer like Brissette would be required to serve at least half his sentence before being eligible for parole. Currently, first and second degree murderers are eligible for parole after serving a third of their sentence.
"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 the bill's sponsor Senator Lou 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."
The bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee unanimously despite opposition from the Rhode Island Public Defenders Office. It will now proceed to the Senate floor for a full vote.