New Jersey's 25th Legislative District

Senator Anthony Bucco

Senator Anthony Bucco
Senator Dawn Addiego

Gov. Signs Joan’s Law Amendment to Mandate Life Sentence for Murder & Sexual Assault of Minors

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Governor Christie has signed an expansion of “Joan’s Law” sponsored by Senate Republicans Dawn Addiego and Anthony Bucco, to mandate life without parole for murdering a minor, of any age, during the course of a sex crime.

Rosemarie D’Alessandro testifies at a May 31, 2017 Senate Budget Committee hearing in support of Sens. Dawn Addiego and Anthony Bucco’s bill expanding the law named after her daughter. S-607 extends Joan’s Law to mandate life in prison for murdering and raping any minor. (SenateNJ.com)

For the past 20 years, “Joan’s Law” has mandated “no release” in cases involving a minor under age 14. S-607 extends Joan’s Law to protect victims between the ages of 14 and 18.

“This law cannot ease the pain of losing a child, but it can ensure that parents do not have to relive that trauma by having to appear before a parole board time and time again, just to keep a killer locked up where they belong.” Senator Addiego said. “Now, every minor who is brutally raped and murdered will receive equal justice under the law – and so will their family.”

“There is always more we can do to keep our children safe from sexual predators. Anyone who commits such an atrocious crime should, at the very least, spend their life in a jail cell,” Senator Bucco said. “There is no justification for releasing these monsters back into the general population. I am hopeful that this law will act as a deterrent. I believe it will save countless young lives for years to come.”

Signed by Governor Christie Whitman in 1997, “Joan’s Law” was named for Joan Angela D’Alessandro, a 7-year-old who disappeared in April 1973 while she was delivering boxes of Girl Scout cookies to a neighbor.

Joseph McGowan, a 26-year-old chemistry teacher, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder and was sentenced to life in prison for abducting, raping and strangling Joan. In the years since, McGowan, who is still in prison, has had parole hearings on four occasions.

Joan’s mother, Rosemarie D’Alessandro, spearheaded efforts for a law mandating life in prison without parole for the killing of children under the age of 14 during a sex crime. This expanded legislation was introduced at D’Alessandro’s behest.

“This law will prevent others from committing these horrendous crimes because a perpetrator will know that there is no escaping the life-sentence it mandates,” Rosemarie D’Alessandro said. “The signing of this law shows that the leaders of our state believe in  in justice and lessening the pain and suffering for families. The supporters of Joan’s Joy, her brothers, and I, are so grateful today. This was a seven-year movement. Thousands of people have gotten involved. I am so glad that their voices were heard. ”

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