HUNTERDON ASSEMBLYMAN Peterson measure locking away predators for life clears Assembly

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Predators who molest and kill children under the age of 18 will serve life in prison under legislation  (A373) approved by the General Assembly today and sponsored by Assemblymen Robert Auth, Gregory P. McGuckin, Erik Peterson and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.

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“In a state that doesn’t have the death penalty, life without parole is the most severe sentence we can require,” said Auth (R—Bergen). “This is a crack-down on the most despicable creatures in our society. Life imprisonment is more than warranted for horrific attacks on minors.”

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The bill expands the scope of Joan’s Law, which denies parole to anyone serving a life sentence for molesting and killing a child under age 14. The legislation protects all minors, increasing the age threshold to 18.

Joan’s Law is named for Joan D’Alessandro, who was just 7 years old when she disappeared after delivering her last two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. He body was found three days later on Easter Sunday. A neighbor pled guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, which at the time made him eligible for parole after 14 years.

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“With this bill, we are doing everything in our power to protect our vulnerable children and support the families of victims,” said McGuckin (R-Ocean).  “Life without parole ensures these deviants never again threaten children in our neighborhoods.”

Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Joan’s mother, dedicated her life to promoting harsh penalties for similar crimes.  She has lobbied for – and collected thousands of signatures on a petition in support of – this bill.

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“The young are the most innocent and most susceptible targets in our society, and protecting them must always be the priority. We’re sending a message: For the worst of the worst criminals, if you prey on a minor, there is no second chance,” said Schepisi (R–Bergen). “On behalf of the D’Alessandro family and their multi-decade journey to tighten laws to protect our children, I am proud to sponsor this measure which may represent a final step in ensuring these protections.”

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“The murder and sexual assault of a child is despicable. These vile predators who commit such heinous crimes should never again see the light of day,” said Peterson (R—Hunterdon). “This measure sends a clear message: If you molest and murder a child or teen there are no second chances. You are going to prison for life.”

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