2002 No Action
2001 No Action
2000 No Action
1998 No Action
1995 No Action
TO THE HONORABLE, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
In accordance with the provisions of Section 43-1-4 of the General Laws, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 95-H-5058 As Amended, "An Act Relating To Criminal Law Ñ Parole."
This act would increase the minimum time inmates must serve before becoming eligible for parole from one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, thus significantly changing existing law. While mis bill has merit, the specific language of the legislation raises serious fiscal concerns.
The legislation attempts to postpone the effective date of the new sentencing mandate until receipt of federal funding for this specific initiative. The language of the legislation, however, does not accomplish this result. The new sentencing requirement would appear to take effect as soon as any federal funds are received under the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, regardless of the amount or whether those funds are earmarked for sentencing and parole guidelines. In fact, the State of Rhode Island is expected to receive monies under the 1994 Act unrelated to sentencing and parole.
Moreover, the State is presently eligible for no more than 50 percent of the available funds because the legislation does not meet the eligibility criteria established by the federal incentive grants. Thus, a serious negative fiscal impact would result from this legislation. The Department of Corrections has estimated the fiscal impact from FY 1996 to 2003 to exceed $70 million in operating costs and to cost approximately $65 million in construction costs for an additional medium security facility which would likely have to be built. The Department's operating budget would dramatically increase as well.
In order for Rhode Island to qualify for full federal funding from this initiative, the State would need to enact comprehensive legislation addressing the issues oftruih-in-sentencing, parole guidelines and sentencing reform. Such legislation should be formulated by an appropriate study group which is representative of the various interests within the criminal justice system.
For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.