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Interview with Parole Board Chair, prior to Thrill Killer's Release.....I wanted to know why?

Good Morning Rhode Island, welcome your new Mansonlike "Thrill Killer" neighbor who is being paroled 20+ years early.

Good Morning, RI Parole Board is RELEASING this thrill Killer decades early after 13 years of a 35 year sentence served.  You should be OUTRAGED.  The Board earlier approved letting Alfred Brissette Jr. out on parole more than 20 years before his original release date.

On Friday morning, December 7, 2012, I voluntarily met with the Parole Chair, Ken Walker and Assistant, Mike Degnan at the 40 Howard Street, Varley Building in Cranston.  My actions are motivated by my obligation to safeguard my community because I find Rhode Island’s sovereignty and integrity to perpetually be compromised.  Note, Governor Chafee elects the Chair position.  This position was held by Mr. Walker several years ago when he was duly working as a Professor of Education at RIC, and retired.  He said the Chair position years ago was only part-time and that over the years there became pressure to make it full-time, as it now stands.  I must admit, I was very disappointed that no one from the Cranston Herald or Cranston Patch accepted my invitation to sit in on this interview.  Importance of the bigger picture being the "Parole Board has the full Discretion and power", and contrary to their catawampus assertion that it’s based solely on the Legislative Good Times accruement. 

The purpose of the interview was to set the record straight on Parole Board's oversight and accountability.  As I have previously shared, Carolyn Mederios is a Cranston resident whom formed a Non-profit  the Alliance for Safe Communities and this local woman has lobbied your Parole Board to rethink their release of Bissette 'Thrill Kill' killer.  I was at the Parole Board trying to dissect why I was told the Parole Board must carry out the Good Times Bill that applies to this criminal which our lawmakers passed.  However, I learned that they 'do not determine eligibility...based solely on Statutory legislation'.  When I look at our Representatives and Senators passing and supporting such legislation that enables animals like Bissette to use "Good Times" and other such laws to get out EARLY, I am astounded that some of you keep voting in the same people.  Walker said that the reason for Rethinking their earlier decision was because the collaborative agreement with the lodging provider wasn’t in place and therefore a Permit could not be granted and the process of parole review is repeated. Then again the media doesn't draw attention, so how would you know unless you are monitoring them. 

What seemed like I was going to have a great interview, threw me a little when my microphone wouldn't work.  Mr. Walker was very nice and reminded me of Bill Cosby.  He was would ponder the information asked and then often come back to me and flip the interview trying to learn more about me and why I wanted to know this information and what goes on in my personal life - LOL!  I wanted to know why 'the parole board' states they are unable to hold them under these current restrictions because I was questioning their weight and leverage to overturn such decisions and be released into our community.  I recounted a conversation that Mike Degnan and I had that his release was "All based on Law", and I turned to Mike and said that is misleading because the Eligibility is based on Good Time, however the ultimate decision is yours based on what you have seen and I cannot imagine how he can be rehabilitated.  Mr. Walker said in 2009 Bissette was denied and in 2012 he had accumulated enough Good Time and was all set for Release.  However, they reversed their initial decision to release because Bissette's housing placement had changed and was not clear.  If a Parolee doesn't have housing in place arranged prior to release, then we deny them Parole.  He said just because we have "public outcry", it is not based on this factor ...but rather the Release Plan.  He said the Statute takes precedence over your guidelines when there are conflicting items.  Walker, “The DOC has a right to remove and transfer an individual or inmate, we did this with Craig Price (http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/west_bay/providence-craig-price-motion-denied), who was sent to Florida due to safety concerns.  Walker pointed out that the Parole Board could be sued if they didn’t adhere to the Good Times and denied Bissette parole.  It has happened before.

Mr. Walker said that Early Release is a "misnomer" here in Rhode Island.  If a person is eligible for parole they have to have a Release Plan and meet the criteria.  It is never due to overcrowding.  I questioned the erroneous claims put forward regarding the case of accused murderer Jason Wayne Pleau and my involvement

Mr. Walker brought up Alfred "Freddie" Bishop was convicted in March of the slaying of 35-year-old Gabriel Medeiros.  Bishop had been arrested less than a year earlier after spending more than three decades at the state prison for a separate killing in 1973.  He brought up other murderers and discussed a recent one that stabbed his wife 50+ times saying some are crimes of passion and there can be rehabilitation in certain circumstances that they look at all the factors.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently stated "As a matter of public policy, Rhode Islanders have long opposed the death penalty, even for the most heinous crimes.  To voluntarily let Mr. Pleau be exposed to the federal death penalty for a crime committed in Rhode Island would be an abdication of one of my core responsibilities as governor: defending and upholding the legitimate public-policy choices made by the people of this state."   Rhode Island abolished the death penalty in 1852, although a very narrow death penalty statute was put in place afterwards.   That law was finally removed in 1984, and no executions occurred in Rhode Island after 1852.  I believe this was based on the yellow stripes that the Governor Chafee and those he chooses to carry out their personal opinions versus what the community as a whole wants.

Carolyn Medeiros of Alliance for Safe Communities and the Brotherhood of Corrections are OUTRAGED that such a heinous crime is not punished more.   I am thankful that they are there and now they are demanding change to the way the Parole Board conducts themselves, otherwise you need to ask yourself, where are the laws to protect the community???  What the Sam Hill is going on in Rhode Island???  He has had the luxury of 3 square meals, warm bed, Netflix TV and receiving a College Education for FREE on your Dollar.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Elana Carello February 19, 2013 at 07:36 PM
It really and unfortunately does not sound like you got answers to the core question - except that they don't want to be sued. And to turn it around and ask you questions about your life is unprofessional and downright creepy.
Suzanne Arena February 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM
I am left with the thoughts that our Parole Board is unable to enforce punishments on Heinous Crimes which I thought were specific. I also didn't think that they were "All based on Law" and the use of Good Times Bill (btw, that should never apply to such types of crimes) and to say the PB must follow the statutory laws and Good Time that they are unable to deviate because of the possiblity of being sued. I thought Mr. Walker and Mr. Degnan were super nice and took the time to speak with me about such concerns....but, in the end my take away was that they don't really have the power they should. Something's terribly wrong with this picture.
Suzanne Arena February 20, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Correction, Matthew Degnan not Mike.
Maya Lincoln February 20, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Suzanne, I want to thank you for your hard work in trying to find the answers and for writing this blog. Just like many Rhode Islanders, I think it is also a downright disgrace to all of us in this state that they even aloow "good time behavior" for people who commit heinous crimes. Many of these "criminals" are master manipulators, so they would "act good" to be eligible, just so that they end up killing again. When I saw Channel 10 and their news report of the story and found that this "killer" was going to a state college, I immediately was in shock. I feel very sorry for the students, professors, faculty, and anyone who comes in contact with this "killer". Also, prisons should not be made "comfortable". It is supposed to be punishment and the ultimate punishment should be "behind bars without anything". How are we going to teach children and teens that prison is bad if they make it good. Criminals who commit heinous crimes should have their "human rights" revoked. They took away the rights of humans that they killed by their crimes, so we should take a way theirs.
Bill Santagata February 20, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Maya: I agree that people who commit murder should not be eligible for parole or early release, especially not this "thrill killer." However, your proposal to revoke the human rights of criminals (in addition to being unconstitutional) would have dangerous implications. It would lower us as a society to their level, and allow prisons to commit the most atrocious, disgusting, barbaric acts imaginable. We would be no better than many 3rd world countries. The 8th Amendment to the Constitution is in there for a reason.
Elana Carello February 20, 2013 at 10:38 PM
I just wanted to say that both of the comments above make me proud to be a part of this community. Both Maya and Bill make excellent points and they are so very well stated. On a day where I was reading some terrible, bullying comments on this site, this was refreshing to read.
The Chorus February 21, 2013 at 03:07 PM
13 years on a 35 year sentence is not justice...I only can hope and pray for karma for the politicians and bureaucrats that allowed this to happen. If the person who was killed belong to a well-connected family this would not be happening.
Suzanne Arena February 22, 2013 at 03:07 AM
The main problem was when they passed "Good Times", they should have never allowed anyone to be Grandfathered in, which he was. We should NOT be paying for them to get a college education....period.
Bill Santagata February 22, 2013 at 02:06 PM
I don't know if the grandfather clause is the problem..would it really be okay if this "thrill killer" committed his crime after the law was passed and was being released early? The government should look into the cost of providing a (basic) college education and see what it's return on investment is. If someone is in jail for stealing a TV or punching a guy, they're not going to be in there forever. Eventually, they're going to have to be released. If providing a college education dramatically reduces their chances of committing additional crimes once out of jail, giving them a better chance of integrating into society, then it would actually save the state money in the long run.
Small Change February 22, 2013 at 05:29 PM
=I don't know if the grandfather clause is the problem..would it really be okay if this "thrill killer" committed his crime after the law was passed and was being released early?= The point is rather that at the time of sentencing the judge/jury woud have taken into account the concept of early 'good time' release and sentenced accordingly. That is the problem with the 'grandfather' aspect. He is getting less punishment than those who sentenced him intended.
Denise February 22, 2013 at 08:47 PM
The government should look into the cost of providing a (basic) college education and see what it's return on investment is. If someone is in jail for stealing a TV or punching a guy, they're not going to be in there forever. Eventually, they're going to have to be released. If providing a college education dramatically reduces their chances of committing additional crimes once out of jail, giving them a better chance of integrating into society, then it would actually save the state money in the long run. ... The problem with this proposal is that there are many law abiding citizens that cannot afford to go to college, but would like to. The criminals have more rights than law abiding citizens do. They get health care, a warm bed, a roof over their head and 3 meals a day. That's more than many working folks get!
Small Change February 22, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Just wondering what the least dangerous crime, with the least amount of time, I could commit to qualify for this one. It would seriously be worth considering.
Bill Santagata February 22, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Ah okay I understand now. Still, in this particular case, I would not approve of parole no matter what.
Bill Santagata February 22, 2013 at 11:08 PM
We should also be working to make sure that college is affordable for everyone who qualifies and wants to go and that everyone has healthcare. The fact that we give these things to criminals should embolden us to provide them to all law-abiding citizens, not maintain the status quo. As for the warm bed, roof, and three meals a day...prison is not exactly a five-star resort. They get an iron frame with a mattress and three servings of government slop. The government doesn't have a choice here...you have to feed your prisoners. While there may be some people who are so destitute that they would consider committing a crime to get the prison food, I doubt the offer is tempting for most working people.
Suzanne Arena February 23, 2013 at 02:31 AM
The argument is as Bill Santaga points out, could go either as to benefits of education. Although it is in fact “prison,” the treatment they receive is nothing short of easy. With free meals, free exercise equipment, free religious services, free counseling, and free college education, prison seems ideal. Some argue that privileges offered in county prisons are too abundant and defeat the purpose of serving one’s actual sentence, while members of the opposite belief say that these offerings are needed to keep the inmates sane. http://www.mhsroundtable.com/archives/prison-inmates-receiving-free-college-education-invoke-controversy/comment-page-1/ Pell Grants for Prioners & Massachusetts Study Reflects:According to a study conducted in Massachusetts state prisons, prisoners who had received some college education while incarcerated represented a recidivism rate of 46.8 percent, nearly one third below the state average. There is a lot of interesting informaton this article which referenced the The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that excluded federal and state inmates from the Pell Grant program in 1994, meaning that prisoners can no longer apply for federal funds to pay for college courses that might be offered at federal or state prisons near university campuses. It further talks about Post-secondary prison education. http://cornellsun.com/node/47372 @SmallChange, I agree with your comments re: Judge.
Suzanne Arena February 23, 2013 at 02:32 AM
For some, they feel free college education is a privilege taken way too lightly by the inmates who are receiving it. Hard-working American citizens fight everyday to be their best, striving to succeed as far as they can. Why is it fair that inmates, citizens who have committed crimes, are able to receive a college education for free? We need factor in the cost of yearly housing of an inmate vs. deriving at a lower recividism rate by those educated. After researching this one point, I find more research is necessary because of the valid trials. Many criminals are smart and are your forgotten students that were the annoying ADHD or Dyslexic child that failed due to parental and educational supports...so, I give pause to revisitng this debate after learning more. We really need to ask, when a paroled inmate seeks a job, are things overlooked because of a College Degree ~ I don't believe that. Those awaiting Death Row and in jail for life should however, not be privy to this priviledge. It is wrong that these criminals are given the education that hard-working men and women must compete for.
Small Change February 23, 2013 at 04:25 AM
I sincerely hope no one took my last post at face value. Yes, i have known some people who have spent time in jail. In every case they have described it as just an awful, rotten experience.
Joe Richer February 23, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Why would we provide free university education to felons and then not to law abiding citizens? Or are you really simply trying to sneak free college education for all in the room. Where will the money for your good will come from Bill? We must simply hold people responsible for their actions. If you can get a free college education for puching a guy...I see a dramatic increase in punching coming on!!!
Joe Richer February 23, 2013 at 04:47 PM
You are pretty good at spending money you have not earned, Bill. As the Iron Maiden said - The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

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