The date is the anniversary of the 1997 passing of the first Joan's Law, a New Jersey law which eliminates the possibility of parole for those who sexually assault and kill young children.
Joan's mother, Rosemarie D'Alessandro, has spent years advocating for laws to protect children. Joan's Laws were also passed by New York and federal lawmakers, and New Jersey officials also approved the Justice for Victims Law, which allows victims' families to sue killers regardless of how much time has passed since the crime.
D'Alessandro is now trying to rally support for a new bill which would extend the age range of victims covered under Joan's Law.
The original wording for the memorial proposed by D'Alessandro caused some concern that the language was too graphic, and months were spent revising the language as borough officials, Girl Scout leaders and psychologists gave input. The final version was approved by the council last month.
The borough and Joan's Joy Foundation, a nonprofit started by Rosemarie D'Alessandro, will just need to work out a maintenance agreement, officials said.
The memorial, consisting of a butterfly sculpture and flowers, will be placed in the grassy area in front of the train station.
The approved text will read:
"Joan Angela D’Alessandro
September 7, 1965 — April 19, 1973
Joan was a loving and brave little girl who was full of life and would stand up for others. She was a spunky, caring and balanced child who liked daffodils, dogs, dancing, whistling, and high diving. Her special colors were green and orange. She joked around and enjoyed the piano and her favorite song, 'Ode to Joy.' She was proud to be a Girl Scout Brownie.
While delivering cookies on Holy Thursday Joan was the victim of a heinous crime at the hands of her neighbor who lived three houses away.
Concerned communities, those who searched for her and the nation learned of her fate on Easter Sunday. With this loss of innocence society’s emphasis on child safety changed overnight
Joan’s neighbor was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment, but he was eligible for parole after serving only 14 years.
This tragedy and injustice sparked a movement of positive change that was led by Joan’s mother, Rosemarie. It began in Hillsdale to protect children and keep them safe. Joan will always be remembered for inspiring the passage of laws that ensure victims’ rights and keep child predators behind bars without parole.
Joan’s Law, NJ — April 3, 1997
Federal Joan’s Law — October 30, 1998
Justice for Victims Law — November 17, 2000
Joan’s Law, NY — September 15, 2004
In April of 2006, Joan’s mom visited
the site where Joan had been left in Harriman State Park, New York.
She saw a white butterfly
behind the split boulder in which Joan had been found. Since
then, the white butterfly has become a sign of Joan’s joyful
and free spirit, giving many a sense of hope, love and peace.
Joan’s legacy protects all children in the United States and brings awareness to child safety and protection forever.
Dedicated on April 3, 2014"