Little pushes for longer crime sentences, help for victims

State Sen. Betty Little talks with the Enterprise editorial board at its Saranac Lake offices in October. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

Not thrilled with the thought of convicted murderers getting out of prison on parole, state Sen. Betty Little is pushing for a package of bills that would reform the state system.

Little, R-Queensbury, joined her Republican colleagues at a press conference in Albany earlier this week to advocate for laws that would keep violent criminals behind bars longer and ease the parole process for victims and their families.

“Anyone who has been a crime victim can speak to its life-altering impact,” Little said in a statement.

“It’s important to me that we, as a State Legislature, do everything possible to support victims and their families and to ensure that justice is served to the greatest extent possible.”

Double murder

Included in the “Victim’s Justice Agenda” is legislation (S.1995) sponsored by Little that would require life imprisonment without parole for someone convicted of first-degree murder.

Little was moved to introduce the legislation by a double murder in Glens Falls in August of 2017.

Crystal Riley and her daughter, Lilly Frasier, were strangled and stabbed in their home by 21-year-old Bryan Redden.

Redden pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 44 years to life in prison, meaning he could be eligible for parole at some point.

“I cannot imagine the horror that MaryEllen Monroe, a constituent of mine, confronted when she discovered the lifeless bodies of her daughter, Crystal, and granddaughter, Lilly, on the kitchen floor of their home,” Little said.

“Crystal, 33-years-old, and 4-year-old Lilly were intentionally and brutally murdered. There is no second chance for them, but there will be for their killer when he is up for parole.”

Little said, “murder in the first degree does not warrant leniency. It calls for the most severe penalty possible in New York, life without parole.”

Democratic majority

The Senate passed the legislation last year by a count of 45 to 18, but the Senate has switched from a Republican to Democratic majority this year.

“I am asking my Democratic colleagues to stand up for victims, for their families and for justice by helping us pass this legislation again,” Little said.

Other legislation included in the package would:

¯Require a parole board to review impact statements prior to a parole hearing.

¯Ensure the confidentiality of crime victim statements.

¯ Require the retaking of parolees who fail to adhere to the terms of their parole.

¯ Impose a life sentence for persistent offenders convicted of multiple violent felonies.

Only fair

A companion bill in the Democratic-controlled Assembly has been submitted this year by Carrie Woerner, D-Saratoga Springs, but has yet to be voted on.

There was a bill introduced in the Assembly late last year, but it did not get voted on.

Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, said he would support the Assembly version of the bill.

“We need to look at the impact on the victims, and we are not doing that,” he said.

“We are giving parole to cop killers,” he said, referring to a recent case, “and I don’t believe that makes society safer. We are getting away from the balance of justice.”

Little said she feels strongly that her bill should get approval in both houses and become law.

“These who commit murder in the first degree; intentional, contemplated murder, changed their victims’ lives forever so it’s only fair that their life is changed forever as well,” she said.