"Joan's Law" Toughens Penalties for Sex Predators Who Murder a Child

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    HARRIMAN state park - Late last week Gov. George E. Pataki signed "Joan's Law" which makes life in prison without parole the minimum penalty for predators who molest and murder a child. The bill is named for Joan D'Alessandro, a seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in 1973 by a high school science teacher to whom she was delivering Girl Scout cookies. The governor signed the bill into law in Harriman State Park in Rockland County, where Joan's body was found over thirty years ago. "Such serious and atrocious crimes, like the murder of Joan D'Alessandro, must be met with the most serious of punishments," Pataki said. "It's beyond comprehension that our law could allow the perpetrator of such a heartbreaking crime to be eligible for parole after serving only fifteen years in prison. ‘Joan's Law' will ensure that heinous criminals who would prey upon our children so viciously are taken off our streets for good." "I want to thank the D'Alessandro family for their courage. Because of their commitment to changing the law, other families may be spared the unspeakable tragedy that they had to endure," the Governor said. Senator Thomas Morahan said, "I would like to thank Governor Pataki for supporting our efforts to ensure that criminals who prey upon our children in New York and commit these type of atrocities will never again be allowed on our streets to repeat such heinous crimes. This is truly a victory in our efforts to protect children in New York from sexual predators." Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun said, "It has been a long time as this tragedy occurred so many years ago. But due to the leadership of Governor Pataki and the perseverance of the D'Alessandro family - we finally have a law in place so we can prevent a tragedy from repeating itself." Joan's mother, Rosemarie D'Alessandro said, "It gives me joy that in this month we remember two births, the birth of Joan on September 7th and the birth of Joan's Law in New York on September 15th. Joan's law will attest to children's rights and Joan's legacy to remember Joan today so tomorrow's children will be safe. "I believe that the governor is sending a very important message to the people of New York that these kinds of crimes are among the most serious and that our children must be protected." "Joan's Law" would eliminate the possibility of parole for any adult convicted of murdering a child younger than 14 in the course of committing certain sex crimes. Under current law, a sentence of as little as 15 years to life in prison is permissible for a conviction of murder in the second degree for such horrific crimes.