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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "With increased support, hate crime bill advances"

Stephanie Wang reports in today's Indianapolis Star in a story that begins:

With new bipartisan support, and with sway from influential city leaders, Indiana lawmakers gave preliminary approval Tuesday to what could become the state's first hate crime law.

But a public hearing on the issue quickly became snarled by friction from the debate over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

The mere discussion of a hate crime law marked a big departure from previous years when Democrat proposals on the issue never advanced.

This year, a Senate committee took up a proposal brought by Republican lawmaker Susan Glick from LaGrange. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry showed up to put his weight behind the issue, joined by a coalition of institutions that serve minorities.

Senate Bill 220 would create a sentencing enhancement for bias-motivated crimes, as opposed to previous proposals to make it a separate criminal charge. Courts could consider stricter penalties for convicted offenders who targeted victims because of characteristics such as race, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

"This is about evil intent," Glick said. Hate crimes can send chilling messages throughout communities, she said — but a law could send a message back to criminals that the state will not tolerate hate. Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime statute.

Curry cited several past examples of crimes motivated by bias: the burning of a cross in a Johnson County yard, the attack of a Muslim woman in Bloomington, and the intimidation of a gay neighbor in Indianapolis.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 27, 2016 01:37 PM
Posted to Indiana Government