Murderers and rapists will get earlier cracks at parole under bills that outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine signed into law just before leaving office.
“We’ve made it by the skin of our teeth, with a very long fight, these last few parole hearings,” said Rosemarie D’Alessando, whose daughter Joan’s killer remains behind bars — but possibly not for long. “But there are other victims for whom everything is more immediate. I feel so bad for those people.
“They thought they were finally free, ” D’Alessandro told
this morning, “but they’re not.”
By severely loosening parole requirements for all convicts, regarldess of their crime, Corzine all but assured that the killers of D’Alessandro’s daughter and of 20-year-old honor student Kim Montelaro decade could go free. New hearings will force the grieving families to relieve the horrors. And it will cost the state at least $6 million during a budget crunch.
For good measure, 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 CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM early Tuesday.
Despite a petition and letter-writing campaign organized by Shroeder, with D’Alessandro’s help, 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.
“It’s just not right what was done, by the way it was done, by those who voted for it, and, of course, by the signing of the bill,” D’Alessandro told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM early Tuesday. “But we will prevail. There will be something that will work.”
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.
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.
Schroeder vowed to keep fighting.
“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.”
THE BILLS THEMSELVES (click to view):
PREVIOUS STORIES :
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