Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill expanding Joan’s law, which denies parole to anyone who murders someone under 18 years old while committing a sex crime. The original law, enacted in 1997, eliminated parole for the murder of minors under 14 years old.
“Teenagers are often targeted by predators,” said Auth (R-Bergen). “And the penalty should be equal for those who commit a heinous crime regardless of the age of the victim.”
The original law was enacted after more than two decades of urging by a victim’s mother, who vocally supported this expansion. Seven-year-old Joan D’Alessandro disappeared while delivering girl scout cookies on April 17, 1973. Her body was found three days later, and a neighbor pled guilty to the crime eight months later. He was sentenced to life in prison with parole after fourteen years.
“We are doing everything in our power to protect children and support victim’s parents who rightfully want justice,” said McGuckin (R-Ocean). “Anyone who commits a crime of this magnitude doesn’t deserve a shred of freedom.”
Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Joan’s mother, dedicated her life to promoting harsh penalties for similar crimes and collected thousands of signatures to petition support for the bill.
“New Jersey is sending a message that these acts are unforgiveable; that there is no second chance,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “We will do anything in our power to protect our children.”
“Predators who sexually assault and murder children should never see the light of day,” said Peterson (R-Hunterdon). “This law makes that clear.”