By Bill Rappleye
PROVIDENCE - A state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would require convicted murderers in Rhode Island to register with local police when they are released.
State Sen. Lou Raptakis, D-Coventry, said his bill would mirror the sexual predator law and require murderers to announce where they are living.
"The police department notifies the neighborhood that there's a sexual offender living in the community. Why don't we have that for someone who has committed a first- or second-degree murder that is being released to the community? The public has a right to know that an individual is living in their community especially that has committed a murder," Raptakis said.
- No the public doesn't have a "right" to know, but, if we have one online registry (hit-list) for ex-sex offenders, then why not one for all sinners?
Alfred Brissette was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the "thrill killing" of Jeannette Descoteaux, of Woonsocket. Brissette pleaded no contest to murder charges in the 1999 killing. He was released 13 years later.
"There was an outcry where no one knew where this individual was being placed in the state of Rhode Island after being released," Raptakis said.
Teny Gross of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence said legislation is not the solution.
"Some people actually want to move away from that lifestyle, and really go and live a quiet life somewhere else and they deserve a second chance. They are supervised by the state, the authorities often know about that. If they are doing something wrong, they'll address that," Gross said.
- Isn't it ironic how they say this when it's any other criminal, but someone wearing the "sex offender" label, that all goes out the door?
Raptakis has also filed legislation to require convicted murderers to serve at least half of their sentences.
The full Senate passed the bill last year, but it died in the House Judiciary Committee.
Steven Brown of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said the group is opposed to sex offender registries, but had not seen the bill for the convicted murder registry.