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Attorney General Kilmartin Statement on Passage of Amended “Time Off For Good Behavior” Legislation

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin praised the Senate for expanding the list of crimes that would not be eligible to earn early release from prison for good behavior but the Attorney General also expressed great disappointment that the Senate did not include community supervision in the amended version.

“As Attorney General, I am duty bound to protect our residents and to prosecute those who commit crimes to the fullest extent of the law. I extend my gratitude to Senator Sosnowski and the entire State Senate for taking swift action on this legislation. The amended bill passed by the Senate will ensure that those who commit the most egregious crimes, including murderers, child killers and rapists, will not be released into our communities simply for behaving while in prison,” said Attorney General Kilmartin.

“I am extremely disappointed, however, that the Senate chose not to act on my community supervision component to the legislation. The deletion of the community supervision provision strips the State’s ability to get back earned time from those who commit a crime after released early from prison,” added Kilmartin.

“Someone who benefits from early release from prison due to good behavior should be held accountable for entire time of their sentence if there is subsequent bad conduct. Early release for good behavior is not a right of a prisoner, but a privilege, and the State should have the right to revoke that privilege for bad behavior and criminal conduct for the duration of the original sentence imposed.”

“The legal right to take back good time for bad behavior speaks to the public policy of truth in sentencing and helps to ensure good behavior by inmates when they are outside the restricted prison walls. This provision provides for more accountability and is in the best interest of the public and, more importantly, it is in the best interest of victims of crimes.”

Under current law, when an inmate is awarded “good time,” that time is simply removed from the inmate’s sentence. Once the inmate is released from their “reduced” sentence due to good time, they are returned to the community with no supervision, unlike when an inmate is released on parole. Further, when an inmate is granted early release, there is no ability for the State to seek that time back for bad behavior or for subsequent criminal conduct.

The case of Michael Woodmansee is a perfect example. Michael Woodmansee shaved 12 years off his 40 year prison sentence by earning good time. His sentence is now 28 years, not the 40 years imposed by the courts. Those 12 years are completely wiped off his sentence, never to be captured again, regardless of what he does after he is released.

Unlike community supervised parole, where the inmate may be returned to prison to serve the rest of their court ordered sentence, Michael Woodmansee and other criminals who have sentences reduced for good behavior, are not held to the same standard. “It contradicts good public policy when violent criminals have more rights and freedom than that of a person deemed worthy to be paroled from prison,” concluded Kilmartin.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of the Attorney General

Online: http://www.riag.ri.gov/

Release date: 05-05-2011

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