Not enough money to keep murderers behind bars?

The General Assembly session is almost over, the budget has passed and now both the Senate and the House just need to tie up loose ends.

One bill that has fallen by the wayside after having outstanding public support and passed through the Senate unanimously is the “murder-parole” bill also known as the Alfred Brissette Bill. The bill was inspired when there was a public outcry at the news that Alfred Brissette would be paroled after serving only 13 years of a 35-year sentence for murdering a woman for the “thrill of the kill.”

The bill which requires murders to serve at least half of their sentence before being eligible for parole passed the senate unanimously in March. Now, the Senate sponsor Lou Raptakis says the bill is not going to make it to the house floor because of budgetary issues.

In a letter sent to Representative Nicholas Mattiello on June 26 from Senator Raptakis, Raptakis accuses that he was told be members of the house that the bill “would not be passed in the House because it would cost too much money.”

The status of the bill on the General Assembly's website has the bills last activity has being referred to the house judiciary committee on March 13. It has not come up for a hearing. The House Judiciary is set to meet on Friday however the murder-parole bill is not on the agenda.

Interesting sentencing in 2013

In Rhode Island in some cases it appears that sometimes murderers can get lesser sentences than other criminals.

For example:

In March of 2013 a convicted murderer, Donald Greenslit was sentenced to life in prison, the maximum prison sentence for domestic murder, and an additional seven years for a slew of other charges. Greenslit was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and attempting to burn her remains. In the past he had been convicted of several other offenses.

On the other hand, a Providence man Timothy Debritto received a 50 year sentence for shooting another man in a love-triangle situation. He was charged with felony assault and several gun charges, including discharging a firearm in commission of a crime.  Debritto was sentenced more than the standard sentence for his crimes in order to discourage future gun crimes. While the sentence was a positive one for public safety and to act as deterrence in the future it begs the question: why do murderers face less time?

It is unclear why the murder-parole bill has been stopped before getting any sort of hearing or vote in the house. If it is because of money it would be interesting to see what the public thought on the matter after the public outcry over the potential release of Brissette and the released of child murderer Michael Woodmansee.

As an aside, Debritto was later charged in a homicide in Providence after he was sentenced. However, he was not known to be involved at the time of the original proceeding and sentencing.