Gutless to the end, outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine gave his middle finger to the survivors of young murder victims late Monday, signing into law measures that severely loosen parole eligibility for rapists and killer.
By doing so, Corzine — who lost what should have been a slam-dunk governor’s race to Republican Christopher Christie in an overwhelmingly Democratic state — assured that the killers of two Bergen County girls will now soon have parole hearings — again — forcing the grieving families to relieve the horrors. Corzine also pardoned a Newark man accused of murder and cleared charges against more than a dozen other people.
“What a disgraceful legacy!
” new state Assemblyman Bob Schroeder told
Despite a petition and letter-writing campaign organized by Shroeder and Hillsdale’s Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Corzine caved to his own party’s Democratic powerhouse, Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman, who just so happens to have two convicted holdup men for sons.
Without comment, Corzine approved the measures in his last day in office, granting parole hearings at least every three years for anyone who has been denied release — regardless of the crime — and establishing a blue-ribbon panel that will review the cases of ANYONE who’s been in prison at least 20 years.
That includes the remorseless Christopher Righetti, who abducted and butchered 20-year-old honor student Kim Montelaro, and Joseph McGowan, who killed young Joan D’Alessandro, when she came to his Hillsdale home selling Girl Scout cookies.
It’s curious that Corzine would sign the bills extremely late on his final official day in office — same as the lame-duck Democrat majority in Trenton approved the measures among their last acts as a Legislature. He even did it in his Newark office, saving himself a trip from Hoboken to Trenton after a vacation in Switzerland. And he did so late enough that it wasn’t big enough news anywhere.
In other words: spineless.
Although the Parole Board wisely abstained from the fray, it was clear speaking to certain people close to the action that its members hoped for a different result.
But Watson Coleman apparently had him by the short ones, at least until his position expires at noon tomorrow and Christopher Christie takes the reins as governor.
By giving non-violent and “lesser” violent convicts (such as her sons) a leg up, Watson Coleman claimed, the state could prevent them from returning to prison. What she couldn’t square is why violent rapists, murderers and others needed to be included — nor why she pushed for a measure that would cost the financially-strapped state at least $6 million, when Christie already has said there can be no more spending.
Shroeder, who is also a Washington Township councilman, galvanized members of KeepBergenSafe.com, a victim’s rights advocacy group that actively supported the Montelaro family last year in opposing Righetti’s release.
Schroeder called the three-year provision an “outrage” that all but guarantees the loved ones of murder victims will never find closure. Freedom would also be possible within the next year or two for, among others, McGowan and Righetti.
“As his term comes to a close, I am calling upon Governor Corzine to resist the temptation to reward this shameful attempt at legislative sleight-of-hand by the Assembly Democrats, stand up for victims’ rights, and heed the will of the people he has pledged to serve,” Schroeder said in a statement yesterday.
Kim Montelaro (l.) and Joan D’Alessandro
However, Schroeder got the same response many others did, courtesy of an outgoing governor who has no promising prospects ahead of him and will most likely be best known for not wearing his seat belt when his driver, speeding up the Garden State Parkway, so his boss could make a speaking engagement, crashed into a truck driven by an innocent local resident. Or else his legacy will involve his relationship with a state union boss.
Here’s hoping Corzine can rest his head on a comfy pillow in his Hoboken condo tonight, secure in the knowledge that he’s about to unleash a hell this state hasn’t seen in a long time — unless the wiser and more popular incument, law-and-order man Christie, puts a stop to it.
Schroeder, for one, showed grace under fire.
“As your Assemblyman, I will do everything I can to amend these awful laws and stand up for victims’ rights in New Jersey,” he told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM early Tuesday morning. I look forward to attending incoming Governor Chris Christie’s Inaugural events today, which will mark a new era of integrity in government–a refreshing change after Jon Corzine’s actions on his last day as governor.
“To Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Tony & Alice Montelaro, and all of the families who will be negatively impacted by these new laws, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
“I pledge to do everything I can to put forth legislation that will keep dangerous murderers and pedophiles like the ones who killed your children behind bars where they belong.”
CLIFFVIEW PILOT supports the compassionate lawmaker intently and purposefully. There is power in a genuine democracy, a power that can undo the evil deeds perpetrated — and perpetuated — by a heartless few.
Lawmaker calls on Corzine to reject parole breaks
Online petition aims to derail loosening of parole eligibility
Opponents of hush-hush parole bills corner Corzine
New legislator calls 11th-hour parole breaks “outrage”
Pressure on Corzine to squelch parole bills
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CORZINE’S DECISION? REGISTER IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY AND SOUND OFF HERE…..
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