JOAN D’ALESSANDRO: NEW JERSEY
Joan's Law, named for 7 year old Joan D'Alessandro of New Jersey, imposes a life-without-parole sentence for the murder of a child under 14 during a sexual assault. Joan was raped, stabbed to death and left in a wooden hollow by her neighbor, Joseph McGowan, 27 years ago. He received a life sentence but became eligible for parole in 1987 and again in 1993, when the parole board denied release and ruled he would not be eligible again until 2005. Joan's mother has mounted successful campaigns to keep her daughters killer behind bars. Legislation has been passed on the state and national levels to keep such offenders behind bars for life. The two year statute of limitations in civil lawsuits for wrongful deaths was eliminated. Now there is no time limit for relatives of murder or manslaughter victims to sue for damages.