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Good time behavior bill passed in Senate last Thursday

May 11, 2011

Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown

PROVIDENCE - After it came to light that convicted child killer Michael Woodmansee could be released from prison 12 years earlier due to good time behavior, state lawmakers rushed to make sure that it would never happen again. Last Thursday they did just that.

With not a single opposition vote, the state Senate voted to approve a bill sponsored by Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, that would amend the law that allows convicted criminals early release for good behavior. The bill was submitted at the bequest of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin in response to news that convicted child killer Michael Woodmansee was eligible for early release for good behavior this August, having served only 28 years of a 40-year sentence.

In 1982, Michael Woodmansee was convicted of brutally murdering South Kingstown five-year old Jason Foreman seven years earlier. It was Foreman's mother's birthday when Woodmansee decided to murder and cannibalize the boy's body as he was on his way home from playing in the neighborhood. The Foreman boy was missing since 1975 until police discovered Woodmansee tried to strangle the local paperboy, Dale Sherman, in 1982.

The bill passed by the Senate Thursday would prevent criminals like Woodmansee from earning good time behavior and participating in prison rehabilitation programs like education classes. However, the final bill was not as broad as the original. In the original bill, written by Kilmartin, those convicted of crimes including second-degree murder to possession of child pornography would be unable to accrue good time behavior. The bill backed by the Senate only prohibits certain offenses from being eligible for time off for good behavior, including murder, kidnapping of a minor, first-degree sexual assault and first- or second-degree child molestation. As of July 1, those already incarcerated for committing one of the prohibited crimes will no longer be able to earn time off for good behavior or be eligible for educational credits, although inmates will be able to maintain the balance of good time credits they had previously earned. The approved bill also eliminated a provision in the original version that would have placed prisoners on parole for the full duration of their sentences.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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