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Rosemarie Louise D'Alessandro

2004 Special Courage Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Rosemarie Louise D'Alessandro | Special Courage Award
Hillsdale, New Jersey

Thirty years ago, Rosemarie D'Alessandro's neighbor raped and murdered her 7-year-old daughter, Joan, while she was delivering Girl Scout cookies. 

When Joan's killer became eligible for parole in 1993, D'Alessandro organized a letter writing campaign that led officials to deny the parole. The idea that a murderer could be released from prison spurred Ms. D'Alessandro to work for passage of a mandatory minimum sentencing law. After 3 years of lobbying, a bill denying the possibility of parole to offenders who murder while committing a sex crime was passed by the New Jersey legislature and signed into law in April 1997. 

Following that victory, D'Alessandro spearheaded a successful campaign for a federal version of "Joan's Law," which was signed by President Bill Clinton in October 1998. In addition, the repeated appeals by her daughter's killer led her to realize that criminals may have plentiful financial resources—so she helped design a bill eliminating New Jersey's 2-year statute of limitations on suing murderers. Her active lobbying led to the bill's passage in November 2000. 

In addition to her legislative efforts, D'Alessandro reaches out to abused and neglected children through a foundation that she established in her daughter's name. She continues her service and advocacy despite suffering from myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease in which the body's immune system attacks the muscles.