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Committee Passes Bill Creating Hate Crime Penalties

Joe Gratz

Indiana is one of only five states without any hate crimes law.  Legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by a Senate committee would change that.

Sen. Sue Glick’s (R-LaGrange) bill would allow judges to inflict harsher penalties based on a person’s motivation for committing a crime – specifically, if they committed a crime with the intent to harm or intimidate someone based on that person’s race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, or transgender status. 

Glick’s original proposal would’ve created a new crime entirely – but she says her legislation creating just a penalty enhancement still sends a strong message.

“[It] sends a message to those individuals that we will not tolerate it in our society,” Glick says.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says recent examples prove the need for such a law.  He cites an Indiana University student’s attack on a Muslim woman, a burning cross on an African-American family’s lawn and an attack on a man because he’s gay.

“Bias-motivated crimes clearly affect more than a victim in any given case, but instead can create fear throughout an entire community,” Curry says.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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