New Jersey's 25th Legislative District

Senator Anthony Bucco

Senator Anthony Bucco
Senator Dawn Addiego

Senate Passes ‘Joan’s Law’ Expansion to Mandate Life in Prison for Murdering & Sexually Assaulting Any Minor

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The New Jersey Senate has passed 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. The bill now heads to Governor Christie’s Desk for final approval.

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)

Since 1997, “Joan’s Law” has mandated “no release” in cases involving a minor under age 14. The Senators’ bill, S-607, extends Joan’s Law to protect victims between the ages of 14 and 18.

“Anyone who is evil enough to rape and murder a child will not hesitate to do it again,” Senator Addiego “We need to protect every minor, whether they are 7 or 17-years-old, from these dangerous predators. There is no justification for ever releasing them back into the general population. Parents shouldn’t have to go through the painful process of explaining this to a parole board. After seven years of fighting for this bill, I am so pleased to see us send it to the Governor’s Desk today.”

“Rosemarie has been a tireless advocate for victims and for the families who have had to cope with an unimaginable tragedy. I was honored to stand beside her as our bill passed the Senate Budget Committee last month,” Senator Bucco said. “Until we reinstate the death penalty for these atrocious crimes, expanding Joan’s Law to all minors is the best way to ensure that anyone who brutally rapes and murders an innocent child never sees the light of day again.”

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 supporters of Joan’s Joy, her brothers, and I, are so grateful today – to Senate President Sweeney for posting the bill, to Senators Addiego and Bucco for being the prime sponsors, and to Senators Cardinale, Oroho, Bateman, and Beck for co-sponsoring the bill.

“Your vote shows that you believe in justice and lessening the pain and suffering for families. I can’t explain how important this is,” D’Alessandro added. “This was a seven-year movement. Thousands of people have gotten involved. Thank you for making their voices were heard.”

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