2004-09-16 / From The Mayor...

Law Toughens Minimum Penalty For Sex Predator Murderers

Governor George Pataki this week 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 the child’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.

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. My family and I are thankful to Governor Pataki for having this public signing of Joan's Law today. 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."

State Criminal Justice Director Chauncey G. Parker said, "By enacting this common sense legislation, Governor Pataki is once again ensuring that those who commit these types of heinous crimes will not be allowed to walk our streets and harm our loved ones ever again.."

"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.

Since 2001, Governor Pataki repeatedly proposed similar legislation, entitled "Tamiqua's Law." The bill that would mandate life without parole for a criminal who causes the death of a child while in the process of committing a sexual offense, robbery, kidnapping or arson. The bill is named for 11 year-old Tamiqua Gutierrez, who was found raped and dying in the hallway of her Bronx apartment building on May 8. 2001.

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