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On May 9, 1984, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed Public Law Chapter 221 which removed the death penalty from Rhode Island General Law 11-23-2 and replaced it with imprisonment for life:
§ 11-23-2 Penalties for murder. – Every person guilty of murder in the first degree shall be imprisoned for life. Every person guilty of murder in the first degree: (1) committed intentionally while engaged in the commission of another capital offense or other felony for which life imprisonment may be imposed; (2) committed in a manner creating a great risk of death to more than one person by means of a weapon or device or substance which would normally be hazardous to the life of more than one person; (3) committed at the direction of another person in return for money or any other thing of monetary value from that person; (4) committed in a manner involving torture or an aggravated battery to the victim; (5) committed against any member of the judiciary, law enforcement officer, corrections employee, assistant attorney general or special assistant attorney general, or firefighter arising from the lawful performance of his or her official duties; (6) committed by a person who at the time of the murder was committed to confinement in the adult correctional institutions or the state reformatory for women upon conviction of a felony; or (7) committed during the course of the perpetration or attempted perpetration of felony manufacture, sale, delivery or other distribution of a controlled substance otherwise prohibited by the provisions of chapter 28 of title 21; shall be imprisoned for life and if ordered by the court pursuant to chapter 19.2 of title 12 that person shall not be eligible for parole from imprisonment. Every person guilty of murder in the second degree shall be imprisoned for not less than ten (10) years and may be imprisoned for life.